Undergraduate Nonprofit Education: Between Institutionalization and Recruitment





nonprofit education, service learning, recruitment, retention, higher education administration


The essay aims to foster reflection and discussion on the institutionalization of undergraduate nonprofit education. Undergraduate nonprofit programs (certificates, minors, and majors) have been developing at a slower pace than their graduate counterparts. This essay focuses on the development of these programs and identifies particular challenges in the administration of four undergraduate programs selected as case studies. Common concerns include (1) development of programs broad enough to allow students to pursue multiple career and educational paths after graduation, which forces a curriculum development that differs from the path laid out at the graduate level, and (2) misconceptions and lack of knowledge about nonprofit careers in prospective students, parents, and high school counselors. The discussion is contextualized in broader trends of nonprofit education.

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Author Biographies

Carol Brunt, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Carol Brunt earned her PhD at the University of Manchester, UK in 2013. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she holds the position of Coordinator of the Nonprofit Studies Program. Her research interests focus on human resource management (HRM) policy and practice in nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations and on program growth and development in nonprofit management education (NME) in the USA. Carol’s academic research has been published in peer-reviewed journals including the International Journal of Human Resource Management (IJHRM), the European Journal for Development Research (EJDR) and the Journal of Public Affairs Education (JPAE). Conference presentations include the Academy of Management (AOM) and the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR).

Tyrone M. Freeman, IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

Dr. Tyrone McKinley Freeman is Assistant Professor of Philanthropic Studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. He researches and writes about the history of philanthropy, African American philanthropy, and philanthropy and fundraising in higher education. He is co-author of Race, Gender and Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations (Palgrave MacMillan 2011). His forthcoming book is entitled Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy during Jim Crow (University of Illinois Press 2020). Prior to becoming a professor, he was a professional fundraiser for youth and family social services, community development, and higher education organizations. 

Roseanne Mirabella, Seton Hall University

Roseanne M. Mirabella, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs and Executive Director of the Center for Community Research and Engagement.  She conducts research on philanthropy and nonprofit management education, international education for managers of NGOs, and critical perspectives on nonprofit organization management.  Mirabella recently co-edited “Reframing Nonprofit Organizations: Democracy, Inclusion and Social Change,” which provides students of nonprofit organizations with perspectives not typically included in the curriculum.  Before joining the academy, Roseanne had a wide and varied career in government and nonprofit service, including Senior Budget Analyst for foster care and adoption in NYC’s Office of Management and Budget, Special Assistant to the Commissioner, New York State Department of Social Services, and director of vocational education for Independence High School, a nonprofit serving teenagers in Newark..  She is Past-President of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action and the North Jersey Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration.  For more than twenty years, together with her students, Dr. Mirabella has assisted many local community-based organizations in planning, programming, and social change initiatives.  She recently received the 2019 Academic of the Year Award from the New Jersey Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration.

Peter C. Weber, Auburn University

Dr. Peter C. Weber is an assistant professor of philanthropy and nonprofit studies at Auburn University. Prior to joining Auburn University, he was assistant professor and director of the nonprofit leadership studies program at Murray State University. His research interests include the institutionalization of nonprofit education, civil society in contemporary and historical perspective, and philanthropic innovations. He has published extensively in edited volumes and peer-reviewed journals, including in the field’s premier scholarly and teaching journals Voluntas, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Journal of Public Affairs Education, and Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership

Michelle Wooddell, Grand Valley State University

Michelle Wooddell is an Assistant Professor at Grand Valley State University, where she also serves as the Coordinator of the Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership Program.  Her research interests include the intersection of public and nonprofit administration, fundraising and nonprofit governance.





Invited Essay