Mind the Gap: new approaches to Wealth Inequality

The Poverty Studies Summer Institute at Ambrose University

Just two years ago, in January 2015, the unemployment rate in Alberta was hovering around 4.6%. Today, it is about double that at 8.8%.

Statistics like these do little to describe the extent of the hardship some Albertans are facing these days. Fortunately organizations like the Canadian Poverty Institute at Ambrose University are searching for solutions to end poverty in Canada.

One of their initiatives, the Poverty Studies Summer Institute, will offer three weeks of intensive courses on a variety of subjects all to do with poverty reduction. Running from June 5 to June 23, 2017, seven different courses will be offered on a variety of subjects ranging from human rights to co-ops to collaborative leadership.

Director of the Canadian Poverty Institute, Derek Cook, hopes that the Summer Institute will “create a dynamic community that will energize people and build a network.” A network potentially of entrepreneurs who take the “Introduction to Co-op Development” course who will be able to go back to their communities and generate quality employment as co-ops have been shown to do.

Another course on “Collaborative Leadership” plans to teach new ways for people to work together to tackle the complex problem of poverty. “Right now systems are siloed and fragmented” says Derek Cook, who hopes that the students, practitioners and ministry workers who attend the Summer Institute will learn new skills to “work horizontally in a vertically organized system.”

Another course on “Human Rights and Poverty“ could create a network of people who are trained in the ways of “making the system aware of their obligations” as it pertains to poverty in Canada. Leilani Farha, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Housing will lead this course discussing, as Derek Cook describes, “poverty as a human rights issue” in an effort to “move responses to poverty away from a charity model; promoting the idea that people have as much right to live poverty free as they have to clean water or fresh air, that it is a basic human right”

Resilience will be discussed in the course entitled “Shock Poverty” to explore ways to build resiliency so that a crisis will not lead to poverty when ongoing stressors have been wearing people and families down over time. This course will look at the problems and promising solutions to “build resilience in the face of those shocks.”

Two years is a long time to deal with the shocks and stressors of ever increasing unemployment in Alberta and the Summer Institute hopes to be a strong force in the effort to build resilience in the face of these adversities.

The first annual Summer Institute will last for three weeks, running from June 5 to June 23, 2017 and is being offered for credit through Ambrose University. The Institute is open to both students as well as non-students who have an interest in poverty. Derek is hoping that the classes will have a good mix of current students as well as people who are working or active in the community around poverty.

For more information go to: http://www.povertyinstitute.ca/poverty-studies-summer-institute

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