Fall 2017 - 60900 - PA 388K – Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Non-Governmental Organizations in Developing Worlds

In recent decades Non-Governmental and Non-Profit organizations (NGOs or NPOs) 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, as well as advocating for basic social and political rights.  Since the 1980s international competition, low economic growth rates, and elevated citizen expectations have placed serious strains on the State’s 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 community’s 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.

In addition to the sectors in which they operate, NGOs vary tremendously in size, financing, administration, staffing, and more.  They range from informal small-scale local grassroots community initiatives to international and 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.  Weekly readings will be listed on Blackboard.  Each week a group of volunteers will serve as discussion leaders and will change the reading list as they deem appropriate.  The course grade will be based on a final paper of approximately 25 pages that deals with a topic of the student’s choice.  Other projects are acceptable with the Professor’s permission.  The three books that we will all read as a beginning to our discussions and that are available at the co-op include:  Edwards, Michael, 2010, Civil Society, Second edition. Malden, MA:  Polity; Bebbington, Anthony J, Samuel Hickey, Diana C. Mitlin.  2008.  Can NGOs Make a Difference?  The Challenge of Development alternatives.  London and New York:  Zed Books; Keck, Margaret and Kathryn Sikkink. 1998. Activists Beyond Borders.  Ithaca, NY:  Cornell Univ. Press.

*  This course counts toward satisfaction of the requirements of the Portfolio Program in Nonprofit Studies at the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.  More information on the portfolio program is available at ww.rgkcenter.org/portfolio.

This course is cross-listed with SOC 396L. SOC is the home department.

Ph.D.
M.P.Aff
MGPS
CLA 2.606