Fall 2021 - 61077 - PA 388L - Advanced Topics in Management

Philanthropy and Social Change

Counts toward the Graduate Portfolio Program in Nonprofit Studies: https://rgkcenter.org/programs/nonprofit-studies-portfolio

Fall 2021 - 61077 - PA 388L - Advanced Topics in Management

Philanthropy and Social Change:  How Grantmaking Advances Digital Inclusion in Texas

Class Schedule: Thursdays, 9–noon

Class Limit: 18

Open To: Graduate students (all disciplines)

Any questions? Please contact becky.lentz@utexas.edu


Course Description 

Philanthropic studies is a vibrant area of interdisciplinary research and teaching relevant to many academic disciplines and fields, including public affairs as well as media and technology studies. As part of a sequence of courses and activities at the RGK Center focused on advancing conversations on philanthropy and social change, this graduate level seminar examines the role that grantmaking is playing in advancing digital inclusion in Texas, with a specific focus on efforts in this issue area by the City of Austin.

Worldwide, adapting to the global Covid19 pandemic has required shifting what were previously in-person activities to an online environment. This shift has made visible many pre-existing disparities in the availability, affordability, and usability of essential electronic devices, services, and infrastructures referred to broadly as information and communication technologies (ICTs). These disparities have been characterized variably over time as the digital divide, digital inequality, or data injustice. Proposed solutions, depending on how policy advocates frame problems related to ICT-related disparities, have also been referred to variably, but in aspirational terms. Examples are digital inclusion, digital equity, open data, digital citizenship, broadband for all, digital justice, and media or data justice.

The seminar will expose students to relevant history of these and other problematizations about media and technology-related disparities along with various approaches designed to address them, giving priority to philanthropic-related activities. This review will be informed by Canadian-Australian political scientist Carol Bacchi’s approach to policy analysis called 'What’s the Problem Represented to Be?', which focuses attention on meaning-making processes in policy problem, formation, and analysis.

We will then move to a brief overview of a history of problematizing digital disparities in Texas and in Austin before proceeding with an analysis of the City of Austin’s 20-year Grant for Technology Opportunities Program (GTOPs). These grants are administered by the City’s Community Technology division and directed at improving the community's ability to fully participate in the digital society.

As an inquiry-based and writing intensive course, students will learn how to work collaboratively to 

1.     use Google Scholar, Zotero, and other tools to conduct literature reviews and build annotated bibliographies on relevant topics,

2.     map shifts in problem framing and proposed solutions and activities over time related to disparities in access and use of ICTs in Texas and Austin, and

3.     produce a work product that serves as a resource for critical reflection on past, present, and future "grant program" initiatives in Austin that advance digital inclusion.


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