The Program in Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities (PJHC) provides students with a multifaceted understanding of human well-being  both within the US and internationally. This interdisciplinary minor emphasizes a “capabilities approach,” which considers what people are able to do and be – for example, live to old age and engage in economic and political activities – rather than strictly what material goods they possess. The program also acknowledges the central importance of a variety of additional influences on well-being beyond income, such as gender, racial and ethnic disparities, health status, education, human rights, political freedoms, and material necessities like food and shelter. A key goal of the PJHC is to enrich students’ understanding of poverty and inequality so that, regardless of their choice of occupation, they will maintain a longstanding commitment to enhancing the well-being of all people. More generally, the program trains students to be leaders in solving global problems.

My time in India really emphasized  how easily both opportunities and inequalities can compound. It was encouraging to see how the kids’ hard work and determination has helped them to overcome so many barriers in their own lives. But, as many scholars can tell you, hard work can only get you so far in a society where social divisions continue to structure opportunities.
Naomi Fa-Kaji, PJHC Intern at Little Flock Children’s Home in Kondamongalam, India (Summer 2013)