Fall 2009 Course Description

Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Section Title: Nongovernmental Organizations in Developing Countries
Instructor(s): Ronald Angel
Course: P A 388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy
(previously Seminar in Topics in Public Policy)
Unique Number: 63130
Day & Time: Wednesdays, 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Room: BUR 214
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Notes: Cross List with SOC 396L; LAS 381; SW 395K

This course fulfills requirements for the following specialization(s):

Description: In recent decades Non-Governmental and Non-Profit organizations (NGOs) have proliferated in all nations of the world. This new organizational form reflects local and international initiatives related to human rights, the environment, sustainable development, health, education and much more. Several attempts have been made to categorize and understand the function of these new and varied organizational forms that exist in the contested and ill-defined economic, political, and social area that lies between the Market and the State and that is often referred to as Civil Society.

Today NGOs, many of which originated as organizations opposed to State excesses or failures, and many of which are faith-based, have assumed significant roles in providing social services to a wide range of people. Since the 1980s international competition, low economic growth rates, and elevated citizen expectations have placed serious strains on the Stateís ability to provide retirement, health, educational, and other social services to populations, and especially to the poor and indigenous groups. At the same time migration, growing female labor force participation, and changing family forms have reduced the local communityís ability to cope with the needs of its members. In this new and rapidly changing environment NGOs have become increasingly important organizations though which States sponsor basic social objectives. Many NGOs that began as opponents of the State now find themselves operating as allies of the State.

In addition to the sectors in which they operate NGOs vary tremendously in size, financing, administration, and much more. They range from informal small-scale local grassroots community initiatives to international multi-lateral organizations with large budgets and professionalized staffs. Many of the largest are quasi-governmental in the scale of their operations. This course begins with a review of attempts to define and asses the boundaries of NGO activity and moves to an examination of the role of NGOs in providing social services. We will examine the history of NGOs, their structure and financing, and the nature of the problems these organizational forms are best suited to address. We will examine the consequences of professionalization on organizational structure, performance, and the evaluation of outcomes. The course also examines the potential role of NGOs in fostering community participation in the solution of social problems and their role in the development of a sense of citizenship. Although the focus of the course will be on Latin America course participants are free to examine the phenomenon in their own area of interest including the United States.

The course consists of readings with group discussion and presentations related to specific areas of NGO activity. The course grade will be based on a final paper of approximately 25 pages that deals with a topic of the studentís choice. Required and recommended readings will be distributed at the beginning of the semester. Individual participants will read literature relevant to their own research topic.

Return to Fall 2009 Course Schedule