The Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster is designed to encourage students to explore issues surrounding economic inequality from a variety of intellectual perspectives, in a course of study that provides coherence and structure while allowing students considerable freedom to pursue their disciplinary or topical interests.  Students who satisfy all of the requirements will receive a certificate of completion for the Cluster.

Privilege & Poverty is intentionally designed to be a flexible program that caters to students’ particular interests while ensuring they get a proper balance of depth, breadth, and connection among the courses they choose. 

While the curricular model is a good place to start, you should contact Academic Director Prof. Matt Lawrence or Assistant Director Jason Duquette-Hoffman early and often to have a conversation about course plans.  We will be delighted to sit down and talk with students who are interested in Privilege & Poverty, and to chart a strategy for taking advantage of the many resources the Middlebury curriculum hosts for studying these issues.

The Curriculum

In order to be identified as having completed the cluster, students should complete the following sequence:

P&P Curriculum Modal

Academic Courses

The two Gateway courses currently offered provide an introduction to the critical study of economic inequality. Currently, there is one Gateway course offered in each semester.

Foundations courses take the study of economic inequality deeper through the lens of a particular academic discipline. 

There are a wide range of electives across the disciplines, and they count toward completion of the P&P Cluster even if they are also meeting major or minor requirements.

Explore our upcoming course offerings to see what fits your interests and goals. 

Field Experience

A critical component of the P&P program is the opportunity to learn and explore the dynamics of economic inequality and its impacts through experience working collaboratively with communities impacted by poverty. Many students participate in either the National Privilege & Poverty Internship through the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, the Addison County Privilege & Poverty Internship, or the Middlebury Social Impact Corps. These experiences offer experiential learning through student cohorts that support and reinforce student learning goals. However, you can pursue your own experience or other opportunities as approved by the directors.


Students complete a semester-long course or project that draws upon and synthesizes their previous work in Privilege & Poverty.  The project may coincide with senior work within a student’s major.  Please see here for more information about the Capstone.

Ideally, students start with the Gateway Course; in fact, preference in the internship program is given to applicants who have taken it. Electives may be taken at any time; preferably at least some will be completed prior to the Capstone experience, which culminates the Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster.

Find your path

For help finding courses to explore your interest in economic inequality or to learn more about building a course of study in the subject, please seek out one of the directors. We would be thrilled to help you explore your interests and find your own path through the program!