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A student stares off pensively. (John Gillooly/UMass Boston)
January 28, 2019

UMass Boston's honors college offers first minor

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  • Boston
Wealth, poverty, and opportunity minor open to students with GPA of 3.4 or above

The first minor offered by UMass Boston’s Honors College provides students within and outside of the Honors College the opportunity to wrestle with the complex concepts of income disparity, mobility, opportunity, privilege, and inequality through a combination of traditional in-class training and experiential learning. 

Assistant Professor of Economics Guy Numa, who is serving as the faculty coordinator of the Wealth, Poverty, and Opportunity minor, says he started talking with Honors College Dean Rajini Srikanth about the possibility of this minor when he arrived on campus in 2015 as the first professor with a joint appointment in the Honors College.

“Dean Srikanth and I started to talk about what was going on in the country in politics and what was going on in the world, also, in terms of social movements. The discussion revolved around wage inequality, income equality, immigration, status, people who came in this country undocumented or were born in this country undocumented, and we noticed that our students were really interested in these issues,” Numa said. “So what we decided was to give them the opportunity to discuss issues that directly affect them and try to put this in an academic setting.”

Numa says that some classes students have already taken might apply toward the 21-credit minor, which includes four 3-credit courses, 30 hours of experiential learning and portfolio of reflections, and a senior thesis research project. Off-campus internships and nonprofit work can count toward the experiential learning component; students can write their thesis on any topic that addresses the themes of the minor. Students who are already planning on doing a senior thesis in their major can use the same thesis to fulfill the requirements of the Wealth, Poverty, and Opportunity minor if the thesis has relevant issues as its focus. Numa says the Honors College is continually rolling out new courses that may be applicable to the minor, and that if students want to suggest a course, they are welcome to do so.

“I envision students who are passionate about the issues of income and inequality, passionate about the issue of poverty, and also students who believe they don’t have the space to discuss this in their major, and they would like to be given the opportunity to delve into the topic in greater depth,” Numa said.

Srikanth adds, “Students who complete the minor will acquire a complex understanding of the intersecting structural forces that contribute to wealth and poverty; they will be able to continue their engagement with these issues through further study and/or employment in a wide range of fields, including public policy, law, advocacy, economics, public health, social work, and community organizing.”

Students from all majors and colleges with a GPA of 3.4 or above can declare the Wealth, Poverty, and Opportunity minor by contacting the Honors College at wpominor@umb.edu.

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