The 2010-11 academic year began with great anticipation. We were inspired by the exhilaration Tom and Nancy Shepherd experienced while last summer's interns reported to all of us about their summer's work and education. We were waiting expectantly to hear from the Department of Education about a grant to support our proposed consortium for poverty and human capability studies. Anticipation turned to disappointment when we heard that the consortium would not be federally funded. We are still seeking to discover just what happened. With encouragement from Tom Shepherd, disappointment did not lead to dismay but to determination for continuing our efforts to form a consortium.
On Jan. 5, representatives from 18 schools and six members of the Shepherd Advisory Committee met near Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia to discuss a new plan for a consortium on poverty and human capability. We decided on a consortium that will feature common courses and internships, a website for networking, annual symposia on poverty for students, faculty and staff, and meetings for learning from each other. As I write in late March, we are waiting to hear precisely which schools will be joining the consortium in 2011, but we know that we will have our first joint internship program in the summer of 2012. We anticipate beginning with 10 or more schools and growing to 20. The new consortium will enable more students from more schools to integrate an internship and poverty studies into their education. They will learn from working together in internships directly engaged with individuals and communities, and they will enrich their classroom studies in a variety of majors with courses focused on multiple dimensions of overcoming poverty. Hundreds of students will begin lifetimes of professional and civic work better informed about this barrier to human flourishing and with commitments to diminish it.
I look forward to working simultaneously with the Shepherd Program at Washington and Lee and the new Shepherd Higher Education Poverty Consortium for at least the next three years. We welcome new students and interns as well as alumni of the Shepherd Program and Alliance from Washington and Lee, Berea, Morehouse, Spelman, Middlebury, Lynchburg and other schools to participate in our website and in our consortium conferences. You may also wish to help us organize gatherings for summer interns in your city. Contact me at email@example.com for more information and to be sure that you are included in our network database.
Harlan Beckley is the director of the Shepherd Program on Poverty and Human Capability and the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion at Washington and Lee University.