Introduction to the Poverty Alleviation Concentration

For this month, the MPPSA blog will focus on our Poverty Alleviation concentration. All posts will pertain to poverty and income inequality. We will also spotlight current students, professors, and alumni within the concentration.

Many prospective students are attracted to the Heller School’s Master of Public Policy (MPP) program because of its concentration in Poverty Alleviation. The concentration’s mission is to “enable students to develop a theoretical and empirical understanding of the causes, manifestations, and consequences of social and economic inequalities.” With this foundation, students can then develop, analyze, and evaluate policies and programs that aim to alleviate poverty.

Students who choose the Poverty Alleviation concentration have a wide range of interests, including but not limited to:

  • Income and wealth inequality
  • Labor policy
  • Mass incarceration
  • Housing and homelessness
  • Community development
  • Food justice
  • Disability rights

First year Poverty Alleviation concentrators, both MPP and PhD students, take Assets and Social Policy with concentration chair Professor Janet Boguslaw. This class serves as an introduction to the field of asset policy, with a grounding in the formative literature of the field, including Michael Sherraden’s Assets and the Poor. It raises important questions such as the role of government and other institutions in expanding or limiting asset-building opportunities.

Professor Boguslaw is also Associate Director of the Heller MPP Program and Associate Director of Heller’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP).

IASP is a renowned research institute dedicated to advancing economic opportunity, security, and equity for individuals and families, through an assets framework. The staff researchers produce reports on topics ranging from racial inequality and mobility to senior and middle class economic security, and are thought leaders in the assets field. Beyond their wide-reaching research and policy analysis, IASP works to build the institutional capacity of partner organizations and conducts community engagement to spread knowledge about asset-building policies and programs. Students have the opportunity to apply for graduate research assistant positions with IASP.

Classes offered this semester that may count toward the Poverty Alleviation concentration:

  • The Political Economy of the American Welfare State- Professor Robert Kuttner
  • Social Justice and the Obama Administration- Professor Anita Hill
  • Great Debates on Social Policy- Visiting Professor Deborah Stone

We hope you enjoy learning more about the Poverty Alleviation concentration through our blog content this month!

Ariela Lovett
Poverty Alleviation Concentrator


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