APU students filled Wilden lecture hall on Thursday, March 20 to attend PovertyCure, an event hosted by the Department of History and Political Science and sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The event consisted of a screening of the first two episodes of the PovertyCure DVD series, which was followed by a period in which students formed groups and discussed the information that was presented in the videos with roving faculty members.
The documentary style videos presented information about the realities of foreign poverty aid and the most effective approaches for combating poverty. Each video included multiple interviews with community leaders, business owners, and pastors in developing countries.
One of the discussion group leaders, Dr. Abbylin H. Sellers of the Department of History and Political Science said, “We wanted to begin an ongoing conversation on how we as Christians can help in ways that we have perhaps not considered before, and how we can take the time to be intentional with our actions.” Sellers said the event benefited all types of students from multiple departments. “It provided students from all majors the opportunity to engage with this important topic of global poverty, while considering the dignity of impoverished individuals and how to promote human flourishing,” Sellers said.
The first video discussed the flaws of the current charity model and how some aid actually causes more problems for the recipients. Host of the series, Michael Matheson Miller said in his introduction, “As Christians we are called to help, but sometimes our help hurts.” The second video stressed the importance of entrepreneurship in developing economies and the effectiveness of small business loans as an alternative to traditional aid.
Two students affiliated with AEI facilitated the screening and the following discussion period. One of the students, junior economics and finance major Alan Feng, said he joined AEI because he is passionate about free enterprise and that he hopes to put on more events like PovertyCure to engage students with new ideas. “People are stuck with traditional views on poverty cure and traditional poverty aid approaches. Rather than focusing on the underlying infrastructure, people simply try to put a bandage on,” Feng said. “The center focus of it (the event) is not to provoke a specific school of thought, but rather to bring up that topic and just have people from all sorts of diverse backgrounds engage with the conversation.”
One of the purposes of the event was to introduce a new student club sponsored by AEI that will soon be on campus. Feng said he hopes the new club will provide a discussion space for students and sponsor more events like PovertyCure.