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PADM-GP.2413: Philanthropy and Public Policy

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New York University, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service (NYU Wagner)

PADM-GP.2413: Philanthropy and Public Policy

Description: This course aims to introduce students to the critical role played by U.S. foundations on public policy issues and in American society generally. The manner in which the U.S. tax laws encourage charitable giving has had a significant impact on civil society and social welfare. A number of initiatives, including not only leading scholarly and medical advances but public television, urban renewal, school vouchers and the modern human rights and women’s rights movements, owe much to the support provided by foundations.

The course will review this history of charitable giving in the U.S., with particular emphasis on the foundations emerging in the first half of the 20th century from the great American fortunes (Carnegie, Rockefeller, Ford) and those coming to prominence around the turn of the last century (Gates, Soros). The role of conservative foundations in laying an intellectual and policy framework for the Reagan and Bush presidencies and the Giuliani mayoralty in New York will also be examined.

Classes will be devoted to a number of key topics, including government regulation and media scrutiny of foundations, corporate philanthropy and family foundations, and criticism of philanthropic practice from the left and the right. Philanthropic practice in other democracies will also be examined, along with in‐depth looks at several foundations and philanthropic initiatives.

FacultyGara LaMarche

Source: Syllabus downloaded from, 29 January 2014.

Teaching Topics Addressed in this Course, Organized by Public Management Subject


Commentary by the Atlas editors: The class titles in the Syllabus suggest a number of the potential topics to be developed for the Atlas:

  • Why some foundations support public policy initiatives – and why they don’t
  • Legal and regulatory framework
  • Legal and regulatory framework
  • Strategies for public policy change: research, policy, communications campaigns
  • Evaluation: how should advocacy and policy funding be assessed?
  • Emerging critiques of foundation policy initiatives

Page created by: Ian Clark on 29 January 2014. The content presented on this page, except in the Commentary, is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases.




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School of Public Policy and Governance