Civil Society and Public Policy in the United States

Course Syllabus Focus

Civil Society

Course Syllabus Institution

Indiana University
Lenkowsky, Leslie

This course explores the relationship of civil society (particularly that part of it known as “the nonprofit sector”) and government: how the nonprofit sector affects public policy, how public policy affects the nonprofit sector, and what the consequences for society as a whole are. Although it will discuss issues familiar to students of economics, law, history and other disciplines, the course is primarily rooted in political science and policy analysis. It will explore a variety of theories and concepts from these fields, such as the meaning of the “public interest,” the nature and extent of civic participation, the role of interest groups in the policy-making process, and the division of responsibilities between the private sector and government (as well as among various levels of government). Particular attention will be paid to current controversies in which the nonprofit sector is involved, such as the impact of changes in government spending and tax policy, the nature and legitimacy of nonprofit advocacy, the role of faith-based organizations in providing public services, and whether or not nonprofit organizations should be more closely regulated.

Blog Posts

More on time, value, and time limits

February 19, 2018

A new report applies a theory of time and value in philanthropy to three real cases, to see how a foundation could decide whether to operate with a limited life, based on the amount and kind of value it hopes to create.


Oct 05

Rip Rapson
President and CEO
The Kresge Foundation