OMI helps host poverty simulation sessions with staff, students and community member volunteer participants, as well as the Poverty Reduction Initiative, a Kalamazoo-based nonprofit organization. These simulations lead students from sociology, political science, economics, business, and urban & regional studies courses through vivid role playing experiences as low-income citizens. Each student has to navigate and negotiate through a month of interactions with various private and public organizations to pay bills, provide food and shelter for their families, and keep their children in school. The first 2 poverty simulations were held in March, 2013 and over 125 UM-Dearborn students participated.
OMI is currently collaborating with the CIVIC to institutionalize the University’s capacity to offer poverty simulations on an ongoing basis to faculty members and their students, as well as for staff, community members and alumni on an ongoing basis. We are also linking this integrated learning experience to ways in which participants can then engage with the Southeastern Michigan community to address community challenges such as those identified in the simulation experiences.