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Mapping NACC Centers: The Past and Future Trajectory of Academic Nonprofit Centers

Peter C. Weber, Carol Brunt


Nonprofit and philanthropic studies (NPS) as an academic field grew over the past four decades. Academic centers are more flexible entities than traditional academic structures and as such play a central role in the field’s growth. Our study maps members of the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC) with specific attention on centers’ establishment and development. We survey NACC centers and review archival records to study NPS’s evolution. We find center creation clustered in the period 1999-2003, when a combination of external funding and academic growth created a favorable environment for academic entrepreneurs to establish academic centers. We illustrate two trends over the past decades. Academic centers increasingly emphasized a NPS disciplinary focus, while, in the same period, traditional university structures absorbed several centers. These two trends suggest contrasting narratives emphasizing either the field’s successful institutionalization or these centers’ loss of independence.

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Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC); Nonprofit Studies; Emerging Scientific Fields; Institutionalization; Academic Entrepreneurs

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