New Poverty Research Center comes to Davis

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has given UC Davis a $4 million grant to establish a research to study the causes and effects of policies regarding poverty in the United States. Davis was chosen as one of three schools, along with Stanford University and University of Wisconsin-Madison, to host a center based solely on researching poverty in the United States.

“Being chosen to lead one of only three national poverty research centers in the country is a tremendous recognition of our faculty’s intellectual capacity, and of the excellence and multidisciplinary breadth of their research,” UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B.

Katehi said in a press release. “Their efforts will help to inform and guide research and public policy around this most urgent issue.”

As a part of the grant, the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research is to use some of the money to fund research at other institutions, as well as finance both undergraduate and graduate poverty studies and research.

The research center’s work will draw on the work of faculty, undergraduates and graduate students, in addition to creating a freshman seminar to encourage students to consider poverty research as a field of study.

“For UC Davis students, the center will lead to several new opportunities: expanded freshman seminar offerings relating to poverty, an upper division, interdisciplinary course (involving both undergraduate and graduate students) on poverty and additional seminars, conferences and events in which researchers from UC Davis and other universities present their research on poverty,” said Ann Stevens, chair of the economics department and director of the new center, in an e-mail interview.

The center’s goal is to not only improve the vastly growing poverty epidemic in the United States, but also to allow further advances in the area of poverty research as a whole.

“The center will have four main themes: labor markets and poverty, non-cash components of the safety net (particularly education and health policies), intergenerational transmission of inequality and immigration and poverty,” said Marianne Page, economics professor and deputy director of the center.

For students, the center will provide a plethora of opportunity for internships and classes to encourage poverty as a disciplinary field in various areas, including economics, sociology, psychology, political science, engineering, the school of law and the school of education.

However, additional construction will not occur on campus for the center.

“The center is beginning almost immediately,” Stevens said. “It is not a new physical center – though we will have some physical space soon, but rather a set of activities. An initial event is currently being planned for early November, and we hope to begin seminars and other events soon thereafter.”

The first event will be held on Nov. 7, where some of the faculty will be giving presentations about “Why Poverty Research Matters.”

CHARLOTTE YOUNG can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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