Global Poverty: Think Big, Start Small

Winter 2017

SAS 198 Global Poverty

Do you have a project that you want to address?
  1. Take your project to the next level.
  2. Gain hands-on experience.
  3. Solve a problem targeted to poverty alleviation.

In partnership with the UC Davis Blum Center, this two-unit course is aimed at undergraduate students who would like to learn more about the landscape of global poverty and get involved with a real project targeted at poverty alleviation. Case studies, guest lectures, and in-class activities will provide students with useful analytical tools for creating their own role in a sustainable solution.

Students will be linked up with a project partner that is working on a poverty alleviation project and be guided through the process of writing a grant to visit and work with that partner during Summer 2016. At the conclusion of the course, there will be a presentation and a grant proposal to a funder.

Each week the course will meet 1-½ hour in-class with an additional ½ hour of mentoring TBA.

CRN: Contact Leanne Bolaño (
Units: 2 units, P/NP Grading
Instructor: Dr. Kurt Kornbluth
Meeting Times: Wednesday 2:10pm – 4:00pm
Location: UC Davis West Village, 1605 Tilia St
Prerequisite: None


  • Introduction to Global Poverty: Theoretical framework
  • Defining the Problem: One Problem, Many Solutions
  • How to Define Your Target Population
  • Your Value Proposition, Communicating Your Idea to an Audience
  • Understanding Your Project’s Environment
  • Measuring Your Project’s Impact

Summary: Over 1.4 billion people still live on less than $1.25 per day. This course focuses on these people and the issues surrounding global poverty (both the causes and effects), as well as explores aspects of the debate over appropriate and effective strategies for alleviating poverty. The first part of the course will explore the disparity in economic growth in the developing world, approaches to poverty alleviation vis-à-vis development, and whether foreign aid is a help or a hindrance. The second part of the course will focus on strategies targeted at raising the standard of living of those most impacted, including implications for appropriate technologies, (micro) finance and social entrepreneurship. We will compare and contrast “top-down” vs. “bottom-up, grass roots” approaches. Students will learn from actual case studies. Students should leave this course with an enhanced sense of the problems posed by global poverty, be able to participate more effectively in the ongoing debates about appropriate strategies to alleviate poverty and how to personally get engaged in ongoing “micro” poverty reduction efforts. Selected students will be encouraged to be involved with actual international fieldwork through the UC Davis D-Lab.