Subsistence Marketplaces

Gain knowledge about subsistence marketplaces and use it in different parts of the world to make a difference. The broader aim of this course is for you to consider the global challenge of poverty and envision a better world by designing solutions based on sound understanding.

About The Course

The foundation for this course lies with unique synergies between pioneering research, teaching, and social initiatives through the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative. Unique to this approach is a bottom-up understanding of the intersection of poverty and the marketplace.

The goals of this course are to help you develop an understanding of marketplace activity in the radically different context of subsistence where much of humanity resides and survives, and for you to design solutions that can be implemented by individuals, businesses, and social enterprises through economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable products for subsistence marketplaces.

Frequently Asked Questions

What resources will I need for this class?

For this course, all you need is an Internet connection, copies of the texts (which can be obtained for free as a PDF), and the time to read, write, discuss, and enjoy some marvelous literature.

How do I pass this course and what will I earn if I do?

Earning a final score of 70% or higher in the class will qualify you for a Verified Certificate if you are participating in the Signature Track. In addition, participants that complete 5 of the first 6 project milestones will earn a "Project Starter" badge from Illinois. Completing the 7th milestone (submitting the final project poster) will earn you a "Project Completion" badge from Illinois. (You are not required to join Signature Track to receive these badges.)

See what others have to say about this course! "I found the course fascinating. I not only learned a lot, but I also feel I'm a better person for having taking this course." -L.P. "I found the assignments and activities really embedded the learning whilst encouraging creative thinking on the many complex problems faced every day by people in subsistence." -M.Z. "I believe that my potential for creating good in this world, whether working with wealthy corporations or with poverty-relief programs—has been greatly increased through insights gained during the past eight weeks." -K.M.


Illinois is a world leader in research, teaching, and public engagement, distinguished by the breadth of our programs, broad academic excellence, and internationally renowned faculty.

Join the Illinois community for Subsistence Marketplaces:


Image Sources: Flickr / Thomas Quine, Flickr / Julien Harneis, and Flickr / Thomas Galvez

Recommended Background

No background is required; all are welcome!