Graduate programs in philanthropy have been around for years. Yet until recently, undergraduate programs in philanthropy were nonexistent. Recognizing a need, Indiana University opened the Center on Philanthropy in 201o. And this month, the first degrees in philanthropic studies were received by five deserving students.
The organizers of the program state that the degree is “intended to produce future nonprofit leaders who are not only well-versed in the nuts and bolts of nonprofit management but also comfortable weighing the philosophical questions they will encounter on the job.” Through their years of study, these students were able to experience several internships and volunteering opportunities that prepared them for the diverse set of circumstances they may encounter on the job. Philanthropic acts do not occur in a vacuum; rather they are influenced and molded by political, legal and social forces. Indiana University – as well as other nonprofit graduate programs – give grads a foundation that will help them navigate these sometimes controversial issues.
Undergraduate degrees in the nonprofit sector are a growing trend. The Center on Philanthropy alone expects enrollment to triple within the next three years. It could be argued that this growth is at odds with a Knowledge Networks study which found that today’s grads value “financial security” above community impact and involvement. Or is it possible to pursue both? Tell us what you think.