In the local, national, and international initiatives of the Economic Empowerment and Global Learning Project, teams of students and faculty from a spectrum of disciplines across Lafayette’s four academic divisions are collaborating with communities to advance residents’ ambitions and build human capital.

Under the guidance of EEGLP’s founding director, Gladstone Fluney Hutchinson, students and faculty work with residents in rural Honduran villages, New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, and Lafayette’s home city of Easton to facilitate social entrepreneurship and economic sustainability. The selection process to create the teams happens in a few ways: Professor Hutchinson chooses students who seem to be a good fit, and current members are charged with finding a suitable replacement upon graduation. Any Lafayette faculty can make a recommendation to the EEGLP team about a student whose talents would complement the mission. However, it’s also possible for a student to express interest in EEGLP, meet the group, and become involved in a trial period to see what the student is bringing to the group and what the group needs in terms of research or skills.

The give-and-take nature of these collaborations exemplify how students and faculty can share their knowledge and human capital with the creativity, localized knowledge, and experiences of residents to facilitate hands-on solutions to real-world issues.

“EEGLP challenges students to become global citizens, requiring individuals to recognize themselves as part of a bigger whole,” says Hutchinson. “I believe what makes the paradigm quite innovative is the co-learning it enables between the students and the members of these communities. By being so engaged, the students themselves cultivate their own humanity.”

Economic Empowerment and Global Learning Project

Founding EEGLP members (left to right) Katie Reeves ’10, Prof. Gladstone Fluney Hutchinson, Lori Gonzalez ’10, and Kavinda Udugama ’09 walk through New Orlean’s Lower Ninth Ward.