Philanthropic Foundations & Public Policy

Course Syllabus Focus

Philanthropic Foundations

Course Syllabus Institution

Duke University
Goss, Kristin

America’s philanthropic foundations aim not only to support charitable organizations but also to change public policy through their grantmaking. Traditionally, scholars have given short shrift to important empirical and normative questions about foundations’ public role. That is beginning to change, and none too soon. With a half-trillion dollars in assets, and annual grantmaking of more than $30-billion, the nation’s foundations and their boards command the social and economic resources to have a profound, if little understood, impact on social, economic, regulatory, and foreign policy. This course will explore the normative debates revolving around power and democratic accountability and the empirical literature on how foundations attempt to influence public policy, why, and to what ends.

Blog Posts

American Democracy: Time for Intensive Care

February 15, 2017

The head of the Hewlett Foundation provides a tour d’horizon of American political dysfunction — and envisions a long and difficult therapy to bring it back to health. 


Oct 05

Rip Rapson
President and CEO
The Kresge Foundation