In this course we will examine one of the most enduring social problems in the United States – poverty. The course is divided into three sections. In the first section, we will primarily focus on the conceptualization and measurement of poverty, as well as the demographic groups that are most likely to suffer from high poverty rates. In the second part of the course, we will review in detail the major government programs aimed at alleviating poverty. We will examine their historical development, their structure and the social science research on their effectiveness. In the third section of the course we will review alternative explanations for poverty, focusing on the distinction between individual and structural explanations and how it influences public discourse and the politics of poverty. As this is an upper level course that fulfills the university’s writing requirement, there will be a significant amount of writing in this class. Writing proficiency within this discipline is required for a passing grade in this course. These written assignments will require coherent, logical, and carefully edited prose. In addition, these assignments will require students to demonstrate higher-level critical thinking skills, such as analysis and synthesis.