In a country well-governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country poorly-governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of. — Confucious


Today’s seminar deals with poverty. This is kind of a difficult concept to grasp, because its definition and meaning is often derived by drawing a comparison to specific conditions at hand; poverty finds its way onto a continuum, anchoring the end of the scale defined by want and need.

For context we asked the students to contemplate the following statistics:

Number of people in the world who live on less than $2/day: 2.5 billion.

Number of people in the world who live on less than $1/day: 1.5 billion.

A full 25% of the world’s population live without electricity.

In 2014, the world’s population hovers somewhere at or slightly above 7 billion, meaning that *more than half* of the world subsides on less than $2/day.  For context, the average daily wage in the US is about $70.  With a population of about 350 million, the US accounts for 5% of the world’s population. Think about this extreme inequality when considering how much of the world’s resources the US (and the global north) controls, commands and consumes.

This seminar is intended to prepare students (and leaders) for a field activity where we will be living on $1 dollar for the day. The day will start with a bucket shower, and will continue with no gadgets or unnecessary creature comforts. It will be an eye opener for sure, especially considering the way of life in the US represents a luxurious minority, far from the world’s norm.