Microcredit, the practice of lending small amounts of money to the poor, quickly rose to global prominence in the 1980s and 90s and remains an essential part of international development and poverty policy today. Nonetheless, some of its initial claims have been challenged or disproven, and many aspects of microcredit remain contested and controversial today. This course provides an overview of this global economic phenomenon, focusing on examining unresolved debates.
This course begins with an overview of the underpinnings of microfinance, using economic, social, and policy perspectives designed to be accessible and not too technical. Following this introductory period, most of the course focuses on a series of issues that remain controversial in the microfinance field. For example, how do we know if microfinance "works"? How should borrowers be chosen? Is it ethical to charge interest on loans to the very poor?
Through readings, interactive lectures, group projects, and class discussions, you will gain substantive knowledge about microfinance and understand the complexity of studying and solving social problems. Through group projects and a debate, you will improve your ability to take and support a position on real-world issues for which there are no clear right or wrong answers.
In this course, you will:
• Learn about microfinance, a large and growing global economic phenomenon
• Critically evaluate evidence on the effects of microfinance
• Understand how to use and consume research to support claims of impact
These objectives, particularly the ability to critically evaluate research and communicate an argument effectively and persuasively, are transferable skills that are vital building blocks for success in college and beyond.
This course is ideal for students interested in poverty, social policy, and international development. No particular prior knowledge is required, but a desire to challenge yourself, improve your ability to communicate ideas effectively and persuasively, and think critically about research and evidence will make this course especially enjoyable. Rising high school juniors and seniors preferred.
Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.