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

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