Why Do We Care? The American Tradition of Philanthropy

Course Syllabus Focus

Social Sector

Course Syllabus Institution

Indiana University
Instructor: 
Lenkowsky, Leslie
Year: 
2010

In 2009, a year in which the United States economy suffered from one the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression, Americans gave over $300 billion to charities, more than one of every 50 dollars they produced. Nearly 64 million Americans over the age of 16 volunteered, 26.8 percent of the population. Within a month after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, more than three-quarters of a billion dollars had been donated for the relief effort in the United States, about as much as was contributed after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in a comparable period of time.
Examples of American generosity such as these are not hard to find and usually stand in sharp contrast to how people in other countries behave. This course will examine why Americans care as much as they seem to, the various ways in which philanthropy in the United States occurs, what it has accomplished, and the challenges it faces. Readings will be drawn from a wide range of humanities and social science disciplines and a comparative perspective used to highlight significant differences (and similarities) with other countries.

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. 

Events

Oct 05

Rip Rapson
President and CEO
The Kresge Foundation