Discourse of ‘helping the poor’: rethinking global poverty and its pedagogical possibilities in higher education

Xiamen University

Date Created: Nov. 9, 2020
Date Posted: May 26, 2021
Submitted by: Tessie Devlin
Sustainability Topic: Coordination & Planning
Content Type: Videos & Webinars

Video Content


As the global community strives for the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, particularly, the first goal of ‘ending poverty in all its forms everywhere’, university students’ learning experiences and understanding about global poverty remain comparatively unexplored. This in-depth qualitative study examines how university students in the USA understand global poverty and what it means to ‘help the poor’ in a year-long international interdisciplinary experiential education program at a Midwestern American university. The program is dedicated to teaching students about global poverty and to problem-solve for people living in subsistence contexts in the USA, India, Uganda, Tanzania and Argentina, through experiential learning projects such as sustainable product, services and business design. The study shows, despite students’ expressed intention to help the poor, they draw upon a variety of understandings of global poverty and what it means to help the poor. Contrasting these different understandings, I suggest a dialogic pedagogy with some conceptual tools and theoretical resources for students to better understand their bottom-up experiential learning experience.