New Grads Enter a New Field: The World Meets the First 'Bachelor's Five' of Philanthropic Studies

By James O'Brien  |  Jun 25, 2012

The first "Bachelor's Five" graduates of a new philanthropy degree program introduce new questions to the investment space.

The Center on Philanthropy, at Indiana University, is no newcomer to the mission of working for the public good. It's been around for 20 years but its new class of five represents a new step.

"This B.A. in Philanthropic Studies is the first of its kind in the U.S. as well as the world," said Julie Hatcher, director of undergraduate programs at the Center. "Students gain an understanding of the cultural traditions of giving and volunteering in society, individual and organizational behavior, the role of the third sector within civil society."

These five grads, Hatchers said, will go on to lead in new initiatives.

"Careers in fund development, volunteer management, and organizational leadership," were some of the examples she suggested. "Many graduates will pursue work within the nonprofit sector. However, with the increasing emphasis on corporate social responsibility as well as public-private partnerships, graduates will be well-suited for a variety of career options."

It is year two for the Center on Philanthropy's bachelor's-degree curriculum. In the first 24 months of its existence, some 21 undergrads have accepted the challenge just completed by these first five.

Indiana University officials expect the Center's student body to grow, by 2015, to 75 candidates.

The development of the new undergraduate degree is also part a larger picture, when it comes to where the training of philanthropic leaders, Hatcher suggests.

 "As the study of philanthropy is growing worldwide, many international universities are exploring this new field of study at the graduate level," Hatcher said.

Programs such as the Center's -- bringing new grads into degree-holding status earlier than ever before -- are part of an ongoing investment, one likely to pay many dividends: the training of investors who will go on to help fund better futures throughout the world.

As Steve Aylward, general manager of Microsoft's Health and Life Sciences Group, wrote recently: "The possibilities of the cloud are endless for health organizations."

JAMES O'BRIEN - James O'Brien is a correspondent for The Boston Globe and Boston University's Research magazine. He blogs for clients on topics that range from music, art, and culture to business, investing, and personal finance. He holds a Ph.D. in Editorial Studies from the Editorial Institute at Boston University.

This article originally appeared on The Atlantic Online as part of the Investing In A Better Tomorrow program.

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