Prudent Charity: Spring 2018 PPE Reading Group

This spring Creighton University students will take on the topic of prudent charity. The concept of prudence has long been associated with the ideas that were formally realized in the discipline of economics. Charity, an equally expansive concept, comes from the word caritas or what unites us to God. These ideas don’t necessarily contradict, but in practice, they tend to highlight different areas of intellectual interest. To create this conversation IEI has asked Dr. Christina McRorie to help plan and administer a conversation among the students that will ultimately end the weekend of April 20th – 22nd in St. Louis with a symposium hosted by St. Louis University and Lindenwood University.

Click “continue reading” for the list of readings.

Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis – We will focus on Chapters 2 and 4 in the encyclical highlighting the Holy Father’s 2013 articulation of the responses the church needs to make to the modern world, with substantive engagement on economic topics.

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor… and Yourself Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert – In this book the authors argue that getting the incentives right for charity includes transforming your heart to understand charity.

In the Company of the Poor: Conversations with Dr. Paul Farmer and Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez – This book places Liberation Theology in the context of helping the least well off. This includes a long discussion on the preferential option for the poor with specific applications to medicine. Readers are called to observe, judge, and act according to a new Christology.

The Alternative: Most of what you Know about Poverty is Wrong – Mauricio Miller – In this book, Miller outlines the “Family Independence Initiative” that focuses on the skills and strengths poor people have and how to bring them into the economy by matching people in a way that recognizes what they do well.

The Logic of the Gift: Rethinking Business as a Community of Persons – Michael Naughton – By seeing business as a community, we can reject a mechanistic approach to profit and balance man as both a productive asset and an intrinsically human member of a social group.

Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices – Victor Claar and Robin Klay – The authors explain economics as a tool that serves many of the ends of the Christian life. Markets, when oriented this way provide incentives and have been responsible for historic growth in well-being.

Tackling Persistent Poverty in Distressed Urban Neighborhoods – Turner et al. (2014) – This policy brief by the Urban Institute gives an overview of poverty in the urban neighborhoods of the US. It points to “bottom-up” development of choice for those in poverty to help them escape poverty focusing attention mainly on children and meeting basic needs including education.

3 articles – The War on Work and Reforming Land Use Regulations by Edward Glaeser as well as Moneyball for State Regulators by Edward Glaeser and Cass Sunstein – These articles develop the policy conversation started the previous week and provide three distinct perspectives on how regulations interact with those trying to escape from poverty.

The Elusive Quest for Growth – William Easterly – This book shows why many top-down approaches to development in the global economy have been unsuccessful. By focusing the limitations on development aid and educational aid this will give us a global perspective on the problem of poverty.

These readings explore different perspectives on poverty and what it means to help other people both for those doing the giving and those that are the focus of charity. It is my hope that the group will think critically about how we view the poor in relation to ourselves and reduce our willingness to see the poor as other. In addition, all the readings in this list, from a variety of perspectives, criticize a top-down approach in favor of taking humans as very similar despite radically different contexts. These institutional approaches make us question how we might be different if we faced the background conditions that those in poverty face.

Feedback on the PPE Reading Group from Previous Students:

“The opportunity to be a part of a directed conversation that strives to better students understanding of the way the world is, and the way the could be, is what attracted me to IEI reading group. We are able to discuss the power of economics in a way that invokes different viewpoints and opinions without limiting the discussion to a two-sided argument. Plus, the food is pretty good and other people interested in economics are really cool people.” – Sam N. Kouri

“The reading group is an incredible experience. Not only it allows us, students, to gain knowledge in topics that relate to society, but it also gives us the opportunity to discuss these topics with other interested students. In other words, the reading group is an amazing space for knowledge and discussion.” – Renato Morais