Theories of Civil Society, Philanthropy, and the Nonprofit Sector

Course Syllabus Focus

Civil Society
Social Sector

Course Syllabus Institution

Stanford University
Reich, Rob
Sievers, Bruce

The historical development and modern structure of civil society, with special attention to philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. What is the basis of private action for the public good? How are charitable dollars distributed and what role do nonprofit organizations and philanthropic dollars play in a modern democracy? How do non-governmental organizations operate domestically and globally? Readings in political philosophy, political sociology, and public policy.
This course will provide an in-depth understanding of the nonprofit sector, including its historical development, structural elements, and modern operation as a driver of social change. By the end of the course, students will have knowledge of the history and structure of civil society, defining characteristics of the modern nonprofit sector, and key challenges facing nonprofit organizations today, including current issues in large philanthropic foundations and global civil society.

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