SW838-001: Empirical Research on Nonprofit Organizations & Voluntary Action (NOVA Seminar)

Winter 2012
Diane Kaplan Vinokur, Associate Professor of Social Work

Special Graduate Seminar
Winter 2012
Empirical Research on Nonprofit Organizations & Voluntary Action (NOVA Seminar)
SW838-001: Thursdays, 2-5

Nonprofit organizations play an increasingly important role in the provision of health, educational, and social services, cultural development, and the promotion of advocacy, civil rights, and civil society, in the U.S. and also abroad. They also provide fascinating examples of mission-driven organizations that engender theoretical and empirical questions of interest to students of organizations coming from various disciplines. However, the field’s empirical literature on such organizations has only been emerging in great part in the last three decades.

This course seeks to enhance graduate student interest, expertise, and scholarly productivity in empirical nonprofit research. It will expose them to:
(1) Classic and current NOVA research via sessions with leading scholars in the field, as well as their own reading and discussion of pertinent scholarly literature. A grant from the University of Michigan is providing funding to bring in exemplary scholars in this field who are located at other universities and institutes; and
(2) New research opportunities utilizing existing data resources. Such datasets will include:
• Various large-scale U.S. social surveys that include relevant NOVA variables not analyzed by past investigators. (Most of these datasets are archived at the Institute for Social Research’s Inter-University Consortium on Political and Social Research); and
• Newly available computerized databases from such sources as the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s longitudinal information on tax-exempt entities, a new collection of datasets on cultural organizations at Princeton University, and other datasets examining the nonprofit sector around the world.
• Qualitative research opportunities.

Ultimately, the course seeks to develop interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration among students and faculty from different academic units, who share a mutual interest in some aspect of nonprofit organizations, civil society, and voluntary action, and to encourage new research initiatives and collaborations. The major assignment for the course is development of a pertinent research proposal.

Logistics: The Doctoral Seminar will be offered as SW838-001 through the School of Social Work in Winter Term, 2012 and will be held Thursdays, 2-5pm, at a location to be announced. (This seminar was offered twice before, in Winter 2001 & 2005 and led to development of at least three dissertations). The intended audience is doctoral and other graduate students interested in such research areas. Research-oriented graduate students from both professional schools and the disciplines (e.g., social sciences) are welcome. Questions regarding this course should be addressed to:

Diane Kaplan Vinokur
Associate Professor of Social Work
dkv@umich.edu phone: 647-2553