Published on January 23, 2019 by Morgan Black  

At Samford University’s Brock School of Business, students receive a state-of-the-art education that emphasizes current business knowledge and practices. This education is grounded within a mission of Christian culture and calling, and stresses the importance of ethics-based and values-oriented business practices.

One effort to support this mission is through the Business and Local Poverty course offered each Jan term to business majors in their junior or senior year. The class, led by Assistant Dean of Academic Programs and Assistant Professor Barbara Cartledge, explores poverty and the role of business and social solutions.  

“This course examines the basic myths, beliefs and facts regarding poverty in a modernistic worldview,” Cartledge said. “We discuss these issues through a lens of Christian perspective and social entrepreneurial understanding.”

"By taking the Business and Local Poverty course, I have gained a much deeper understanding of the root causes of poverty," said senior Jackson Core. "We have learned of the complicated nature of trying to find sustainable solutions for individuals and communities. One of the main focuses of the class has been learning about Christian community development. This is trying to develop impoverished communities economically, culturally and educationally among other things in a sustainable manner through a Christ-centered lens."

During the three week, three-credit hour course, the students heard from local nonprofit leaders as well as business leaders with faith-based missions. This Jan term offered presentations from Tracy Hipps, executive director of Christian Service Mission, and John McNeil, chairman of the board of the Lovelady Center, and several more.

Additionally, the students took time out of their condensed term to give back to the community. On Monday, January 14, the class toured and learned about the business operations behind The Foundry Ministries in Fairfield, Alabama. Following their class time, the group stayed on location to serve by sorting and tagging clothing items and helping organize the merchandise in the organization’s thrift store.

Foundry Community Engagement Coordinator Erin Bentley ’12 met with the students and gave them insights into the operations of the business and how she got a start in her career. 

“The Business and Local Poverty course gave me a greater understanding of the vast amount of resources for our neighbors in need within the Birmingham area,” she said. “This course confirmed the career path I was heading toward within the non-profit field by allowing me to see how my unique set of giftings and passions could be used to impact my community, the world and The Kingdom.”

Senior accounting major Mackenzie Fazenbaker looks forward to applying what she learned at her upcoming internship.

“This class has been one of the most impactful experiences that I’ve had at Samford,” Fazenbaker said. “It has expanded my view and understanding of local poverty, and I hope to apply the concepts that I’ve learned over these past few weeks at my upcoming internship at the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, a non-profit that works among Hispanic communities. This class has also given me insight for how I can better serve the people of Nicaragua, where I want to pursue a career that combines my accounting background with non-profit work.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.