What is an academic cluster?

An academic cluster is a semi-formal curricular program different from the traditional majors and minors at Middlebury. A cluster provides an opportunity for students to explore areas of study that do not fit neatly into one specific academic department. Besides being dramatically interdisciplinary, a cluster often enhances classroom learning with community-based learning through internships and similar experiences. Finally, an academic cluster builds a community of discourse around its topic, connecting students, faculty, and staff with similar interests and providing opportunities for perspectives and experiences to be shared in intimate conversations and discussions as well as broader venues and public programming. Privilege & Poverty is Middlebury’s first academic cluster.

Do I have to take a Gateway Course in order to apply for the summer internship?

It is strongly encouraged that students interested in applying for the summer internship take a Gateway Course prior to completing their internship. The academic ground covered in these courses lays an important foundation on which the internship will build. However, students who are unable to take the course prior to applying for the internship can indicate on their application that they intend to take the course the following fall. Note: We will offer preference to those internship applicants who have taken a Gateway Course.

When are Gateway Courses offered?

For the 2019-2020 academic year, a Gateway Course is offered each term.

How many other courses do I have to take for the Cluster?

At least three, and up to four more. Completion of the Cluster requires one Foundations Course, two Electives, a field experience (internship or similar) and a capstone experience (Capstone course, thesis or independent study).

Check out our Course Offerings page for an approved list of courses. You can also contact Professor Matt Lawrence, the Privilege & Poverty Academic Director, to see if another course may count as an elective.

Can courses that I’m taking for my major or minor count towards my P&P course requirements?

Yes! Remember, between the Gateway Course, Foundations Course and the two Elective Courses, classes should represent at least three distinct academic disciplines (e.g., history, sociology, philosophy).

How do I apply for the summer internships?

Visit our Internships page to learn more about how to apply for national and local internships, including deadlines and where to apply.

If I’m a senior this year, can I apply to do the internship for the summer after I graduate?

Unfortunately, no. The summer internships are only open to returning undergraduate students at Middlebury,

Can international students apply for the summer internships?

Yes! Middlebury College pays its student stipends, directly, to ensure access among our international students.

Can I do another relevant internship that isn’t officially affiliated with the Cluster?

Yes, with prior approval. Summer or Winter Term internships that offer students a critical engagement with poverty and/or privilege may substitute for the regular programs affiliated with Privilege & Poverty.

Please contact either of the P&P Directors with information about internships you might like to pursue.

Are summer internships funded?

Yes. National internships are full time, 8-week internships with housing and a modest living allowance of $816 provided, along with a $1500 internship stipend and $500 travel award to support transportation to the national opening conference and home from the national closing conference. Local interns are paid at the Category II level for 35 hours per week for ten weeks. Addison County interns qualify for on-campus housing and meals and pay a weekly fee through payroll deduction.

If I’m not interested in pursuing the whole Cluster or in taking a Gateway course, can I still apply to the summer internship?

Yes, but applicants who indicate a commitment to pursuing the whole Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster will receive preference in the application process.

Does “privilege” refer to Middlebury College and “poverty” refer to the Middlebury community?

No! Our cluster is called “Privilege & Poverty” because these terms define one another, so the study of one necessarily requires the study of the other. But neither term sufficiently describes the College or our community. Members of the College community bring experiences of both privilege and poverty to our life and learning together. The juxtaposition of privilege and poverty also aptly describes the community around the College. And certainly privilege and poverty are axes of the global community of which we all are part. This Academic Cluster, then, is an opportunity to critically engage multiple experiences of privilege and poverty.

What does the Cluster entail other than academic coursework and a summer internship?

While academic coursework and the internship represent the backbone of the P&P Cluster, its heart is the community of critical conversation that forms between students, staff, and faculty invested in Privilege & Poverty. With lunch table discussions, sponsored speakers and dinners, screenings, and more, the Cluster gives voice and venue to those passionate about studying poverty and inequality, while inviting us to encounter a range of perspectives that help stave off the narrowing of complex issues to the methodology and priorities of one specific discipline. The opportunities for community-building that P&P offers are as important a dimension to the Cluster as the classroom and community-based learning themselves.

What is a Capstone?

The Capstone experience is meant to be the culmination of your study of privilege and poverty here at Middlebury. Ideally, students will incorporate what they’ve learned in their P&P coursework and internship in an independent project, or their participation in our Capstone seminar. See the Capstone page for more information on Capstone options. 

Who can tell me more about Privilege and Poverty?

Contact the Academic Director, Professor Matthew Lawrence (Sociology) and/or Assistant Director for Privilege & Poverty Jason Duquette-Hoffman at the Center for Community Engagement to learn more about Privilege & Poverty.