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Welcome to Understanding and Solving Poverty and Inequality

A very warm welcome to this course on understanding and solving poverty and inequality! Watch this video to start to orient yourself to the course.
A very warm welcome to this course on solving social problems. I’m Dan Horsfall, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Social Policy at the University of York, and along with my colleague Dr Rachel Vipond – A Lecturer in Criminal Justice – I will explore the issues of poverty and inequality; what they are, what we might want to do about these issues, and how we might realistically tackle these issues. Poverty as a word is incredibly powerful, but it means something different to many people. Poverty in the UK might be thought of as not having as much as those around you – in some parts of the world it might be about whether you exist on less than a couple of pounds a day.
Similarly, we may be familiar with the Dickensian scenes of poverty from learning about the industrial revolution some 150 years ago, but in more recent times we have heard from campaigners, activists, even sports stars, about distinct forms of poverty such as food poverty, digital poverty and period poverty. Poverty is an incredibly complicated – and contested concept, one which is increasingly being considered alongside inequality. Here we move beyond the question of ‘who doesn’t have enough?’ To ‘well, who does have enough and should more be shared out?’ Is the existence of poverty made worse by the existence of extreme wealth?
This course is in part about understanding these two social issues, but also about exploring how these and other social problems, might be tackled. And, importantly, how we all as individuals can play a role, in our spare time, our daily lives, or through our careers. We hope you enjoy it, and that by the end, you feel inspired to get involved in some way.

Welcome to the course!

Poverty and inequality are key challenges facing governments owing to the impact they have on individuals throughout their life. What can we do about this?

Over the next three weeks, we will look at:

  • Poverty: history of the concept, a global look at the issue, a focus on child poverty in the UK, an exploration of why it matters
  • Inequality: history of the concept, a global look at the issue, a focus on health inequalities in the UK, an exploration of why it matters
  • Solving Social problems: a look through the lens of different perspectives.

Please note that active tutor facilitation is limited to the number of teaching weeks from when the course run started. Please do not therefore expect any further tutor engagement from beyond then, although you are very welcome to continue to work through the course materials in a self-directed fashion from that point.

Learning outcomes

As we work through the materials and activities, we will enable you to:

  • Explain the concepts of poverty and inequality
  • Present an overview of the two concepts from a historical perspective
  • Engage with key critical and theoretical arguments about both concepts
  • Reflect on why both concepts are important
  • Explore these insights to offer solutions from multiple perspectives as to how we might solve such issues.
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Understanding and Solving Poverty and Inequality

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