A Perspective on Poverty

There is a rightful global obsession with poverty.

Since 1987, the world has marked October 17 as “The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty”. It’s odd that in the Wikipedia article on the subject, the writers characterize the day as being “celebrated” as, despite progress, poverty is seemingly our never-ending story.

The UN Millennium Development Goals named eradicating poverty as Job #1 from 2000-2015. During that time, about 1 billion people were lifted from poverty and the number of people living on less than $1.25 per day, or in extreme poverty, was cut in half. The UN Sustainable Development Goals now aim to cut the number of people in that category to zero by 2030. In addition, the goals seek to reduce at least by half the proportion of people living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions.

So what does being poor actually look like? What does it feel like to live with less than you need? The world is enormous. Just how can you wrap your head around what poverty looks and feels like while living in the richest and among the most advanced countries in the history of humankind if this isn’t your everyday existence?

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The Belmont Life

One of the great opportunities at a top tier research university is to be part of a community that is constantly seeking to know, striving to ask the hard questions and, at times, struggling to find the right answers. In this environment, there can certainly be at least a mild crisis effect in these efforts, at times some high-minded expression of the process and the access and the difficulties in finding just the right mix of ingredients to make the work…well…work. Is there enough funding? Is there enough time? Is it grounded in a cross-disciplinary approach? Where can we find the right mix of research participants and how can we know we’re doing right by them?

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