11.006 | Fall 2016 | Undergraduate

Poverty and Economic Security


Assignment Expectations

This course requires three written assignments and one group assignment, culminating in a written report. Select 3 assignments from the list below. You must include assignment 1, and we will all work together on assignment 4. The class project will require that students achieve fluency in the Human Subjects Research convention that governs interview-based research. This is a qualification researchers seek prior to conducting research with human subjects.

Assignment 1

Prepare a short paper on your image of poverty. This image can come from a photo or a song, from popular culture, journalism or travel. You can describe something you have seen or experienced, or a person you have met. Your narrative may be fictional as from a movie or novel. You should not engage or interview a person for this assignment.

In not more than 6 pages (double-spaced), present the image or narrative, explain how you came to select it, and present a series of questions that you have about poverty as stimulated by the encounter or observation (The material that is not your narrative should be in an appendix, which does not count towards your total page count). You are not required to answer all of the questions you present, but you should explain the puzzle or other feeling behind the question. To help us understand your presentation, you should include some type of representation of the image you have. For example, you may provide in an appendix, lyrics of a song, summary of a movie, copy of the photo, rich description, a link or video clip, dialogue, URL, etc. Incorporate in your narrative relevant insights from the course readings.

Assignment 2 (Select One)

Assignment 2(A): A data exercise in which students review data and write a “story” and an analysis. This exercise can use a range of types and sources of data. We will have an in-class tutorial on GIS. Maps, tables, and charts are expected. Students are encouraged to use ESRI’s STORY MAP online publishing tool. Extra credit will be available.6-8 pages.Due Class 8.

Assignment 2(B): A policy, sector or program memorandum focused on issues such as immigration, education, international comparisons on global urban poverty, policy transitions, etc. 6-8 pages. This must be well-documented and analytical in intent. Due Class 8.

Assignment 2(C): Write a short (4-6 page) essay in which you frame and address a question about “millennials” and economic security. Different styles of writing are encouraged and can include memos, newspaper reporting, or biography. Sources are required. This must be well-documented and analytical in intent. Due Class 8.

Assignment 3

All students will read a book of their choice and write a book report on their perspectives. The product will be a 750-1000 word book review. We will provide a list of books and students can suggest their own based on consultation with the professor and TA. This type of writing is informative and analytical. Due Class 10.

Assignment 4

Group Project: Report on the living wage for health care professionals in Massachusetts. The typical means by which we study poverty in a place is to examine statistics about local populations that are poor. In contrast, we are going to write a policy report that offers an estimate of the living costs of workers in the health care industry.

This project will begin at the start of term. Zipcodes will be assigned, students will be trained to collect data, data will be collected and checked, and then compiled as part of the class assignment. In turn, the data will be processed and incorporated into the tool and a final report will be written. The final report is due at the end of the term.

A short public presentation will be scheduled in lieu of a final exam.

Here is the scenario:

We will be supporting the director of the professional association that represents 3000+ Community Health Workers in Massachusetts. We will be helping to create a standardized and fair wage profile for this workforce. This is an urgent matter givent the changes in healthcare payments taking place in Massachusetts.

Community Health Workers are front-line health workers who often live in the same neighborhoods as their clients. Most have had first-hand experience confronting the barriers that race and class impose on the poor and other marginalized communities when seeking health care services. These workers provide education, coaching and support and are generally employed by community-based organizations and health centers. That said, school clinics, hospitals, and health departments are increasingly employing Community Health Workers as well.

MassHealth will soon be awarding contracts to newly formed Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). These ACOs will include Community Health Workers in their integrated care teams, given the growing body of evidence confirming the efficacy of the model.

Salaries for this emerging profession are not yet standardized, and adoption of living wages for Community Health Workers has not been considered when determining pay ranges for the cohort. We will be working with the professional association representing Community Health Workers in Massachusetts, to create compensation guidelines that reflect the competencies, roles, and value of our members anticipating issuance of state policy guidelines.

Working with the Living Wage Calculator operated at MIT, we have developed a procedure to collect and find true local costs of living. This information will be collected and processed, and will be compared to the minimum wage, poverty income wages, and recommendations will be made about the cost of living in counties around the state. Students will be assigned zip codes and will collect data, compare their findings, and compile this information to be embedded in the calculator. We will co-author the report for the Community Health Care Workers Association of the state.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2016
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments