The Course Development Process for an Integrated Nonprofit Management Course Concentration: Business Competencies Needed for Nonprofit Careers
Jervis, Kathryn, Sherer, Pamela, Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management
This paper describes the development and implementation of three integrated nonprofit management courses designed as an undergraduate concentration for public service majors. Our purpose is to explain our thought process as we developed the courses to assist others with similar interests in nonprofit management education. In 1993, the college received an external private foundation grant of $5 million to develop a public service major. Shortly thereafter, the public service program issued a call throughout the campus for interested faculty from any discipline to develop courses within their major that included a public service component. During the summer of 1995, our group (five business faculty members from the departments of accountancy, finance, management and marketing), submitted a proposal to develop nonprofit management courses.
We had three main objectives. First, we desired a more collaborative approach for curriculum between our four independent departments. Second, in our experience, our students who were interested in nonprofit careers already possessed a charitable, public service value system, but needed to acquire business competencies to successfully manage nonprofit organizations. Third, we deemed it vital for students to understand the unique nature of nonprofit organizations; i.e., the relationship between the sectors and complexity within the nonprofit sector itself.
The public service program selected our proposal, and we worked over the summer to develop three courses. The three nonprofit management courses became one of three required concentrations for public service majors. The other two concentrations were in humanities and social sciences. The management department at our institution housed the three nonprofit management courses in the concentration. The courses received institutional approval in the spring of 1996, and the first course began in the fall 1996 semester.
The distinctiveness of our approach is the integrated, interdisciplinary nature of each course. The first course provides an overview of the nonprofit sector in comparison to the for-profit and government sectors, and an introduction to business concepts. The second course emphasizes the development of business competencies. The third course is a practicum where students develop a project or write a case study about a nonprofit organization.
The next section describes the course development process. A discussion of course content follows. Our focus for course content includes business competencies and an understanding of the nature of the nonprofit sector. In the final section, we describe each of the courses in the concentration.
NONPROFIT MANAGEMENT COURSE CONCENTRATION DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES
This section discusses course development and implementation issues pertinent to management education that include where to house programs, faculty issues, interdisciplinary teaching, students' needs and experiential learning.
Housing NME Programs
Nonprofit management education (NME) is a relatively new field. Between 1986 and 1996, NME increased primarily in graduate programs that range from individual courses, to concentrations in graduate degree programs, to Masters' degrees in nonprofit management (O'Neill, 1998; Young, 1999; Smith, 2000). Thus, our undergraduate nonprofit management course concentration is somewhat unusual, although many institutions around the country have undergraduate nonprofit management courses or programs (Wish & Mirabella, 1998).'
The Wish and Mirabella 1995 survey found that 76 universities and colleges offer graduate degree programs with a NME concentration; 43 universities offer one or two graduate courses, and 47 offer noncredit courses, continuing education courses or undergraduate courses (Wish & Mirabella 1998, p. 15). According to the survey, most programs are in the Midwest, most likely because of funding from the W. …