“Do you hate poverty? We do, too!” was the subject line of an email inviting members of the university community to explore their own risks of poverty at an Interactive Inequality Experience presented by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Connors Institute last Tuesday.
Around 59 percent of Americans will experience at least one year under the official poverty line at some point during their lives according to Lawrence Eppard, professor of sociology at Shippensburg University.
Held in Stewart Hall, students from the Social Inequality and Honors Introduction to Sociology classes helped attendees understand their own personal exposure to poverty by showing both advantages and disadvantages in their own childhood neighborhoods. People’s life chances differ based on the households and communities they are born into, according to Eppard. Posters also showed poverty rates, social capital and upward mobility rates in individuals’ neighborhoods and around the world.
“I really enjoyed being able to present to Shippensburg University faculty and students about inequality and how we can work together to improve these issues,” Jillian Carley, first-year student, said of her involvement in the event. Carley is a member of the Wood Honors College.
“The students from both the Sociology Program and Wood Honors College did such an amazing job putting on the event, and the turnout was fantastic,” Eppard said of the students at the event.
Through a scavenger hunt, attendees were able to learn general knowledge about poverty as well. For example, one fact was that the United States saw a record-low poverty rate in 2021 due to governmental COVID-19 relief aid.
For Eppard, the Interactive Inequality Experience is unique for a university event because of its interactivity and personability. “Attendees learn about their own poverty risk, their own social capital, the measures of advantage and disadvantage in their own childhood neighborhood and other information about themselves, not just other people or the country in general,” Eppard explained.
All students who attended were entered to win an Amazon gift card.
“I can't wait to hold the event again, and I am so proud of the sociology and honors students. They were really impressive,” Eppard said.
The event was hosted by SU’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology and The Connors Institute for Nonpartisan Research and Civic Engagement. They plan to run the event every year moving forward, according to Eppard.
Shippensburg University is home to the Connors Institute, which works “to disseminate high-quality nonpartisan information to the American public around issues of societal well-being, democracy promotion, and news literacy,” according to its website. The Institute was founded by Eppard who hosts its “Utterly Moderate” podcast where he is joined by guests.
Students can also become involved with the institute by applying to be a student fellow at ConnorsInstitute.org or by emailing ConnorsInstitute@ship.edu.