Philanthropy Course Allows Students to Give Nonprofits $50,000

Philanthropy Course Allows Students to Give Nonprofits $50,000

Learning Philanthropy

Students who take a popular School of Education and Social Policy course about philanthropy this spring will put their learning into action in a distinctive new way. The students not only will examine the practice of philanthropic giving but also will actually give away $50,000 to nonprofit organizations. 

Learning Philanthropy: Engaging in the Study and Practice of Giving will be taught spring quarter by SESP dean Penelope Peterson and Lauren Young, director emerita of the Spencer Foundation. Students will learn about the role of philanthropy in the United States, including its history, social and cultural meanings, motivations and effects. They also will explore their own concepts and values about philanthropic purposes and outcomes. 

“The course will approach philanthropy from many angles, especially from the point of view of giving to improve the lives of children and adults,” notes Peterson. “Northwestern students are leaders of the future, who likely will be making important decisions about charitable giving, and many may even be considering a career in nonprofits.”

To apply what they learn in the course, students will have the unique opportunity of deciding how and why to donate a sum of money to nonprofit organizations that benefit people. In the process, they will confront the policies, politics and practices that influence giving decisions.

This laboratory component of the course is made possible by the Once Upon a Time Foundation of Fort Worth, Texas. To enhance students’ understanding of and commitment to philanthropy, the foundation will entrust the class with a sum of $50,000. Once Upon a Time maintains that courses in philanthropy are beneficial for young people to understand the importance and process of charitable giving, as well as the challenges of making choices among worthwhile organizations.

In addition to being dean, Peterson is also the Eleanor R. Baldwin Professor at the School of Education and Social Policy. Under Peterson's leadership, SESP has risen from being ranked 20 by U.S. News & World Report to being ranked consistently among the top 10 schools of education nationally. A psychologist with a PhD from Stanford University, Peterson is the co-author of Restructuring in the Classroom: Teaching, Learning, and School Organization and Learning from Our Lives: Women, Research, and Autobiography in Education.

A graduate of Harvard University in social policy and education, Young is chief executive officer of LJYoung, a consulting firm in education and philanthropy. She is director emerita of the Spencer Foundation program on Teaching, Learning and Instructional Resources and the Initiative on The New Civics. Prior to Young’s appointment at Spencer, she was associate professor of teacher education and educational administration at Michigan State University.

Undergraduates across the University were invited to apply for Learning Philanthropy by completing the online application by February 10.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 2/11/14