A student makes a presentation after her internship.

The Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster (P&P) encourages students to explore issues surrounding economic inequality from a variety of intellectual perspectives and disciplines. 

Students follow a course of study that provides coherence and structure while allowing considerable freedom to pursue disciplinary or topical interests. Those who satisfy all of the requirements receive a certificate of completion for the Cluster.

P&P is intentionally designed to be a flexible program that caters to students’ particular interests while ensuring they get a proper balance of depth, breadth, and connection among the courses they choose.

Sign Up for P&P News and Information

What You Will Learn

The P&P curriculum is structured around four key learning outcomes:

  • Critically examine the material, social, and environmental contexts of economic inequality.
  • Contribute to and support a learning community.
  • Develop skills, through experiential learning, to work authentically in community to address the causes and consequences of poverty.
  • Cultivate a commitment to and capacity for lifelong ethical participation in society.

In order to complete the P&P program, you must complete the basic requirements and be able to demonstrate evidence of your progress toward competency in the four learning outcomes. Students should meet regularly with the academic director to discuss curricular choices.

Course Work

In order to be identified as having completed the cluster, students should complete the following sequence:

Gateway Course Choose from two options offering interdisciplinary introductions to the study of economic inequality.  
Foundations Course Designed to situate the knowledge of economic inequality in a specific academic discipline, thematic area, or geographic region. Note: Both Gateway and Foundations courses should represent at least three different academic departments.
Two Electives Choose from any College course dealing with the causes and/or consequences of privilege and poverty. Note: No more than two of the Foundations and Elective courses should come from the same academic department.
Experiential Learning Opportunity Choose from local or national internship offerings.  
Capstone Course or Project Choose from interdisciplinary courses (such as INTD426) or other approved senior work. Note: This should be completed after experiential learning requirement.

The two Gateway Courses currently offered provide an introduction to the critical study of economic inequality. In most years, there is one Gateway course offered each semester.

Foundations courses deepen the study of economic inequality through the lens of a particular academic discipline.

There are a wide range of electives across the disciplines, and they count toward completion of the P&P Cluster even if they are also meeting major or minor requirements.

Explore our current course offerings to see what fits your interests and goals.

Field Experience

A critical component of the P&P curriculum is the opportunity to experience the dynamics of economic inequality through working collaboratively with communities impacted by poverty. Students can participate in the National Privilege & Poverty Internship through the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, or locally through the Addison County Privilege & Poverty Internship. These experiences offer experiential learning through student cohorts that support and reinforce student learning goals. However, you can pursue your own experience or other opportunities as approved by the directors.

Preference in the internship program is given to applicants who have completed a Gateway course. Electives can be taken at any time—preferably at least some will be completed prior to the Capstone experience, which culminates the Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster.


For their capstone, students complete a semester-long course or project that synthesizes their previous work. The project may coincide with senior work within a student’s major. Your capstone work will also involve demonstrating your progress toward critical competency in the four program learning outcomes.

Integrating Coursework and Experiential Learning

There are many ways to tailor the P&P curriculum to your interests. Below are just some of the examples of how you can connect courses to issues that matter to you and explore those issues further through a funded internship.

Interest Areas Sample Courses Sample Internships
Environmental and Food Justice FOOD 0281 Food, Power, Justice
HIST 0209 History of U.S. Food Politics
ENVS 1044 Food, Farms, Future: Vermont
Health ECON 0200 Health Economics and Policy
INTD 0257 Global Health
INTD 0211 Public Health of Disasters
Open Door Clinic
Immigration SOCI 0274 Global Flows: Causes, Dynamics, and Consequences of International Migration
AMST 0175 Immigrant America
LNGT 0102 Intro to Sociolinguistics
New American Pathways
Education EDST 0115 Education in the USA
SOCI 0351 Education and Social Policy
EDST 0215 Culturally Responsible Pedagogy
MJCC Rural Fun Delivery
Housing and Communities ENVS 0210 Social Class and the Environment
SOCI 0235 The City and Its People
GEOG 0216 Rural Geography
Charter House/John Graham Shelter
Criminal Justice SOCI 0478 Sociology of Punishment
PSCI 0260 The Political Economy of Drug Trafficking
AMST 0313 Vermont Incarcerated
DC Public Defender
Race and Gender PSYC 0321 The Psychology of Inequality
SOCI 0356 The Continuing Significance of Race in the U.S.
GSFS 0329 Politics of Reproduction
WomenSafe Advocacy


To discuss your classroom-based curricular interests and academic course options, contact Academic Director Matt Lawrence at lawrence@middlebury.edu.  

For more information about our experiential learning opportunities, and to explore how you might pursue your interest in community-connected, field-based learning, contact Assistant Director Jason Duquette-Hoffman at jduquettehoffman@middlebury.edu.

Ready to get started?

Sign Up for P&P News and Information

Center for Community Engagement
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753