About Us

This case study grew out of conversations among faculty members of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP) who were looking for creative, effective ways to teach students about poverty consistent with their student learning outcomes. They wanted in-depth examples, a dynamic learning platform, and a way to open that platform to anyone who wants to learn more about poverty. A group of SHECP faculty were awarded a grant from the University of Notre Dame’s Office of Digital Learning to get started, and the Main Street encampment case study is one product of that grant. We welcome others to suggest enhancements to this case study and/or to offer their own poverty studies case study to complement this one.

Our case study aims to provide an objective representation of events surrounding the encampment of people experiencing homelessness in South Bend, Indiana, around 2016-17. Our goal was to include as many voices and perspectives as possible so that visitors could listen and learn, exploring causes, consequences, and responses that shaped this experience. We acknowledge that any attempt to share such a complicated story leaves out some voices, perspectives, and facts. The enthusiasm with which the people who are included here accepted and welcomed our invitation to talk and share through an IRB approved research protocol encouraged us to honor that desire and publish this case study. We hope that this case study informs visitors from the local community and those far away about the many reasons why encampments form and persist. We ask visitors to listen carefully and critically to the voices captured here, and to research this issue further on their own. We hope that research translates into action that reduces homelessness and increases well-being among the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Three partners came together to try to tell the particular story of the Main Street encampment—Professor Connie Snyder Mick at the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame, members of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, and Notre Dame Learning, a team of media professionals and learning designers who work under the Vice Provost of the University of Notre Dame. In addition, several talented students at Notre Dame made immeasurable contributions to the project–thinking about stakeholders and how to respect the dignity of people who want to tell their own stories, helping to map the infrastructure of the site, conducting some of the interviews, and even being interviewed. We would like to thank these students in particular: Maggie Walters, Keven Cheung, Logan Wishart, Adrianna Duggan, Jasmine Winston, Christine Mayuga.

Connie Snyder Mick

Connie Snyder Mick is a senior associate director and the director of academic affairs at the Center for Social Concerns and co-director of the Poverty Studies Interdisciplinary Minor at the University of Notre Dame. Professor Mick teaches Rhetorics of Gender and Poverty as well as the Capstone and Gateway course for Poverty Studies.

Professor Mick is editor of the Journal of Poverty and Public Policy. She has been a governing board member of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty and a faculty representative on the Indiana Campus Compact Advisory Board. She is an affiliated faculty member in Gender Studies. She published the book Poverty/Privilege: A Reader for Writers with Oxford University Press (2015).

Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP)

The Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP) encourages the study of poverty as a complex social problem, by expanding and improving educational opportunities for college students in a wide range of disciplines and career trajectories. Through its programs, SHECP and its member institutions prepare students for a lifetime of professional and civic efforts to diminish poverty and enhance human capability, while also supporting connections among students, faculty, staff, and alumni engaged in the study of poverty.

Notre Dame Learning

Notre Dame Learning brings together teaching and learning expertise to serve as the hub of learning excellence and innovation at Notre Dame. Working in collaboration with instructors, departments, and colleges, our goal is to enable effective and engaging learning for all students through research-based strategies, technologies, and modalities. For this project in particular, we sought to bring both learning design and narrative storytelling together to create an impactful learning experience about the difficulties surrounding extreme poverty and homelessness that focuses on the human element. In partnership with Dr. Connie Mick, we worked to isolate community stakeholders, capture their stories in video, and design the learning experience housed within this site and its various components. Visit our site to learn more about us. (learning.nd.edu)