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Philanthropy and Voluntary Service


The comprehensive nature of IPVS gives you the academic background necessary to develop into a nonprofit or community leader of tomorrow.

The program’s academic goal is to educate you about the American traditions of democracy and philanthropy that have provided the framework to help those in need for centuries.  What better place to do that than in the heart of the nation’s capital?

“The classes I participated in during IPVS were some of the most intellectually stimulating that I have ever attended. I have discussed matters of philosophy and ethics within philanthropic organizations all while being surrounded by highly motivated students.”

Sarah Gregory, University of Tennessee
Intern, Shared Hope International

The academic courses are designed to complement your DC internship experience by offering a thorough examination of the unique history and ethics of voluntary service in America.  You will discuss ways that private citizens and organizations can work together to solve community problems.

IPVS includes two mandatory three credit courses in government and ethics.  You can also earn an additional three credits by enrolling in the optional internship seminar that focuses on nonprofit professional development.

All courses are accredited by George Mason University and held in their state-of-the-art-facilities, conveniently located a few metro stops away from student housing in nearby Arlington, Virginia.

Course Descriptions

The rigorous 8-week curriculum includes the following 3-credit courses:

Issues in Political Theories and Values
GOVT 329 level (3 credits)

This course will offer the opportunity to consider the larger context of voluntary associations, through a careful reading of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Class analysis will consider, among other things: the relationship - historical and logical - between aristocracy and democracy; the instability of democracy; the mechanisms that serve as antidotes to these instabilities; the importance of religion for democracy; and whether the problem of democracy is, a forum that requires face-to-face relations for it to work. Please click here for this summer's syllabus.

Ethics and Values of Philanthropy
NCLC 375 level (3 credits)

Students participate in lively discussion sessions during the course as they explore the ethical and moral traditions of philanthropy. This course will enhance an appreciation for, and ability to deal with, the ethical issues that can arise in the course of philanthropic activity. Students will examine both domestic and international giving, as well as economics and wealth creation. They will also examine arguments and evidence both about why and about how help should be given. Please click here for this summer's syllabus.

Nonprofit Internship Seminar
ECON 496 level (3 credits)

This course offers internship reflection, leadership exercises, and career building activities. The course will look at current issues affecting professionals working in the nonprofit field such as fundraising, effective grant evaluation, and volunteer management. Students will examine the practical side of the nonprofit sector by examining examples from their internships, lectures, workshops and group activities offered throughout the eight-week institute. This seminar will provide a complete overview of the nonprofit sector in the nation’s capital. Please click here for the summer's syllabus.

“In the courses I was amidst some of the brightest students I have ever met; their ideas challenged mine constantly and I grew as a student and person."

Ailsa Tirado, University of San Diego
Intern, Iona Senior Services


Richard Boyd, Georgetown University
Professor, Voluntary Associations & Democracy

Richard Boyd is an associate professor of government at Georgetown University. His research interests include the intellectual history of liberalism, civil society and pluralism, economic and sociological theory, post-colonialism, and the theory and practice of immigration and citizenship policies in the United States. Before coming to Georgetown in 2007, Boyd taught at the University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Deep Springs College.

Boyd is author of Uncivil Society: The Perils of Pluralism and the Making of Modern Liberalism. His articles have appeared in Review of Politics, Journal of Politics,Political Theory, History of Political Thought, Polity, European Journal of Political Theory, Urban Studies, Social Philosophy & Policy, and other journals. He is currently completing a book-length manuscript titled “Membership and Belonging: On the Boundaries of Liberal Political Theory."

Jason Brennen, Georgetown University
Professor, Ethics & Values of Philanthropy

Jason Brennan (Ph.D., Arizona, 2007) is Assistant Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, where he teaches courses on principled leadership, political economy, business ethics, and entrepreneurship. He is the author of Why Not Capitalism? (Routledge, 2014), Compulsory Voting: For and Against, with Lisa Hill (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Libertarianism (Oxford University Press, 2012), The Ethics of Voting (Princeton University Press, 2011), and A Brief History of Liberty, with David Schmidtz (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). He is currently writing Markets without Limits, under contract with Routledge, and Against Democracy, under contract with Princeton University Press. His research concerns democratic theory, issues in voting behavior, questions about commodification and the extent of markets, and the moral foundations of market societies.

Kimberly O’Donnell, WealthEngine
Professor, Nonprofit Internship Seminar

Kimberly O’Donnell joined WealthEngine in 2003 and, as Chief Marketing Officer, oversees the company’s digital platforms, knowledge management, public relations, partner marketing and campaign strategy for the nonprofit, financial services and luxury markets. With over 15 years of nonprofit leadership, marketing and sales experience, she has advised clients on effective fundraising strategy, prospect research efficiency and social media engagement. O’Donnell is the driver of WealthEngine’s thought leadership initiatives, directing its popular webinar and event series, as well as managing and contributing to nearly all of WealthEngine’s publications—best practice reports, white papers, articles and case studies.

An enthusiastic speaker, O’Donnell regularly presents at national conferences, workshops and webinars. She has also appeared in several print and television stories, including People, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and local television.

In her free time, O’Donnell has served in leadership positions with several Washington, DC based nonprofits, most recently as President of the Board of Stop Child Abuse Now of Northern Virginia. She earned a BA from George Mason University and an MS in business technology from Marymount University.

Lecture Series

As part of our comprehensive program, weekly guest lectures give you a chance to learn, question, and more often than not, exchange business cards with executive directors and major players in the nonprofit sector.

These lectures are designed to complement what you are learning in your classes and internship. Covering a wide variety of topics, the events are lively, interactive, and challenging.

See below for a list of the type of top Washington, DC nonprofit leaders and industry experts you’ll hear from as part of the weekly lecture series.

  • Bill Hanbury, Chief Executive Officer, United Way
  • Brenda Chamberlain, Executive Director, Horton’s Kids
  • Robert Egger, Founder, DC Central Kitchen
  • John Bridgeland, Former Director, USA Freedom Corps
  • Steven Park, Founder, Little Lights Urban Ministries
  • Molly Whalen, Director of Development and Communications, The Ivymount School

“Through my internship, the guest lecture series, and the classes, I have experienced a great deal of intellectual and personal growth that will carry me throughout the rest of my collegiate and professional experience.”

Kemi Oyewole, Spelman College
Intern, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship