About the Program

"The real wealth of a nation is its people. And the purpose of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy, and creative lives. This simple but powerful truth is too often forgotten in the pursuit of material and financial wealth." Amartya Sen

About the program

The Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities (PJHC) program provides students with a multifaceted understanding of human well-being both in the US and internationally. Courses emphasize a “capabilities approach” focused on what people are able to do and be – for example, live to old age and engage in economic and political activities – rather than focusing strictly on their access to basic necessities. Through service-learning and internships, students gain first-hand experience of the wide variety of 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. The program encourages students to build lifelong commitments to support the well-being of all people and to become leaders in solving local and global problems.

This interdisciplinary program offers courses from a variety of disciplines to students from all majors and sponsors an annual Wikipedia Edit-a-thon open to all students on topics relating to human rights and social justice. The program supports students, both minors and non-minors, who are interested in developing critical skills oriented towards advocating for improved policies and social change.

The PJHC minor combines high-caliber undergraduate courses and service-learning experiences that help people in disadvantaged communities in Houston, throughout the US, and abroad. Students are placed with organizations where they work directly with clients and gain experiential knowledge that broadens their perspectives on human lives and capabilities. Although impediments to human well-being take many forms, barriers to the capabilities of women, girls, and ethnic and racial minorities persist across societies. These groups are therefore disproportionately represented among the poor and those unable to attain their full capabilities. The program promotes dialogue among all disciplines about strategies for addressing challenges to human well-being."

For questions about or to begin the process of declaring the PJHC minor, please contact one of the PJHC Co-Directors of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Moramay López-Alonso or Dr. Kerry Ward, or the PJHC Director, Dr. Diana Strassmann.