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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.

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The academic courses are designed to complement your DC internship experience by offering a thorough examination of the American traditions of democracy and philanthropy.

IPVS includes one required three credit course in the ethics and values of philanthropy. You can also earn up to an additional 6 credits by enrolling in your choice of elective courses.

The recommended elective class for IPVS students is Ethics and Leadership, but students are encouraged to select the elective(s) that best fit their career interests and course load at their home university. An internship seminar is offered to give students the chance to earn credit for their internship.

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.

Students should consult with their academic advisor to determine how the courses can be transferred back to their home university.

“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


Course Descriptions


Ethics and Economics of Philanthropy
NCLC 375-1 (3 credits)
Meets 2 times a week for 2.5 hours

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.


Students may enroll in up to 2 elective courses

Ethics and Leadership
NCLC 375 (3 credits)
Meets 2 times a week for 2 hours; includes a 2 day leadership workshop
Recommended for IPVS Students

Identified by some alumni as "the best college course they ever took,” this course is team-taught by professionals who specialize in the relationship between business and personal ethics. The course involves a hands-on learning process, including group activities, to demonstrate how power is defined in the professional world and how individual beliefs apply. Students work on creative team projects to analyze their moral beliefs and how they apply in the workplace. The course includes a two-day workshop designed to help students make the coursework personally meaningful and discover sources of their own empowerment through games and power exercises. Please click here for last summer's syllabus.

American Foreign Policy
GOVT 344 (3 credits)
Meets 2 times a week for 2.5 hours

This course is a must for any student wanting to closely examine U.S. foreign policy while they are living and working in the seat of our nation’s government. The discussion-based class provides historical and present-day perspectives on American foreign policy.  It will examine how these views will influence the future of American diplomacy and global perception of the Unites States. During the course, students will be engaged in a series of “great episodes” in American foreign policy, aiming at relating them to current problems.  The course will also examine national security policy since 9/11.  The class will conclude with a “think-tank” exercise where students will consider major schools of thought about American “grand strategy” and relate them to a major policy problem which any new American administration is likely to face.  This course is open to all students with an interest in foreign policy or international affairs. Please click here for last summer's syllabus.

American Political Thought
GOVT 420 (3 credits)
Meets 2 times a week for 2.5 hours

This course is the perfect complement to any internship in the nation’s capital - where politics and the federal government are front page news every day. This interactive course will explore the development of the American political tradition from the New England Puritan settlement to the Founding Era and the conclusion of the Civil War. The class will also examine how the role of government has changed, how people’s relationship to the government has evolved, and what this means for the future.  Students will discuss the many ways in which Enlightenment liberalism developed alongside alternatives such as classical republicanism and Christianity. Students will explore these contradictory impulses in American political culture and discuss ways that they can be reconciled.

Internship Seminar – Public Policy and International Affairs
ECON 496 (3 credits)
Meets 1 time a week for 2 hours; includes internship hours

Students will meet once a  week for an interactive seminar that will examine the practical side of the workplace.  Led by a former Congressional Chief of Staff and senior advisor at the Department of Labor, this course will  explore current policy  issues affecting professionals working in your field.  High level guest speakers will cover pressing issues such as national security, Supreme court cases and pending federal legislation.  Students have priority access to professional development trainings that are designed to give you the tools to succeed in today’s workplace.  Students also participate in one service project that addresses a pressing issue in order to see first hand the needs of an urban community and to discuss the policy implications and possible solutions.  The seminar is a graded course that incorporates required readings, written assignments, tests/quizzes, and group projects. All students are eligible to enroll in this optional course; enrollment is not required to participate in the Institute or an internship. Please click here for last summer's syllabus.

Internship Seminar – Politics and the Press
ECON 496 (3 credits)
Meets 1 time a week for 2 hours; includes internship hours

Students will meet once a  week for an interactive seminar that will examine the media’s relationship to politics in the nation’s capital.  Led by the founding White House correspondent for USA Today, this course will analyze current legal and ethical issues facing journalists and the people they report on. Students will discuss coverage of election campaigns and government institutions, primarily the presidency and Congress.  Students have priority access to professional development trainings that are designed to give you the tools to succeed in today’s workplace.  Students also  participate in one service project that addresses a pressing issue in order to see first hand the needs of an urban community and to discuss the policy implications.  The seminar is a graded course that incorporates required readings, written assignments, tests/quizzes, and group projects. All students are eligible to enroll in this optional course; enrollment is not required to participate in the Institute or an internship. Please click here for last 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


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.

Michael J. Collins, Georgetown University
Professor, Ethics and Leadership

Dr. Collins began his tenure at Georgetown University in August 1981 as Dean of the School for Summer and Continuing Education. As Dean, Dr. Collins was responsible for administering the graduate and undergraduate courses offered each summer at Georgetown and locations abroad. He was also responsible for the various academic and residential programs at Villa Le Balze, Georgetown's study center in Fiesole, Italy, and, for several years, the Office of International Programs.

In 2003, Dr. Collins was appointed Distinguished Professor in the Department of English and Dean Emeritus. He teaches courses on such subjects such as Shakespeare, the American Idea, and Modern British Theater in Georgetown College and the Liberal Studies Program. He also continues his responsibilities for the Villa Le Balze. He lectures frequently in American studies and on Shakespeare in performance, and he co-directs the annual alumni study tour to Florence and Assisi. He has published many articles on Shakespeare, modern poetry, and teaching and has edited two collections of essays: Text and Teaching (with Francis J. Ambrosio) and Shakespeare’s Sweet Thunder: Essays on the Early Comedies. Collins earned a Ph.D. (1973) and M.A. (1964) from New York University and a B.S. degree from Fordham College (1963). He served as a Captain in the United States Army from 1965 to 1968.

William Doherty, U.S. Government Accountability Office
Professor, Ethics and Leadership

William (Bill) Doherty is an assistant director on the Strategic Issues team at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the "congressional watchdog", the GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. He has recently led GAO audits dealing with human capital and workforce planning, continuity and emergency preparedness, agency specific human capital programs and pandemic preparedness.

Doherty has over twenty years of management experience in the field of human resources at IBM. He managed the delivery of human resources activities at major manufacturing and development facilities and, at the corporate level, evaluated business unit human resource plans and strategies. Doherty also served, after leaving IBM, as associate dean at Georgetown University where he was responsible for professional development programs including programs in executive and leadership development, business administration, human resources, and organization development.

Doherty completed studies for the Doctorate Program in Executive Leadership (ABD) at the George Washington University, received a Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Science with a major in economics from Fordham University.

Gary T. Armstrong, William Jewell College
Professor, American Foreign Policy

Gary T. Armstrong is Professor of Political Science at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri.  He graduated summa cum laude with at BA from the University of Oklahoma and with a Ph.D. from Georgetown University.  He has served as Research Assistant to Francis Fukuyama and Teaching Assistant to former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.  At William Jewell College, Armstrong served as the Chair of the Political Science Department from 1997-2001 and 2004-2007and will be resuming his post in the fall of 2010. He has been voted Professor of the Year by the student body four times during his tenure at William Jewell and is also an alumnus of the ICPES program.

Richard Benedetto, American University 
Professor, Internship Seminar - Politics and the Press

Richard Benedetto was the White House and national political correspondent for USA TODAY as well as a political columnist for Gannett News Service. He has reported on government and politics on the local, state and national levels for the past 34 years.

As a native of Utica, N.Y., Benedetto began his journalism career with the Buffalo, (N.Y.) Evening News, and held government reporting positions with the Utica Daily Press and Observer-Dispatch.

He also worked in the Albany bureau of Gannett News Service, covering state and government politics during the Governor Hugh Carey administration. He is a founding member of USA TODAY, joining the newspaper in Washington, D.C. in 1982, prior to its debut. He wrote the paper’s first front-page cover story on its initial day of publication. USA TODAY is now the nation’s largest newspaper. In addition to reporting on the White House and national politics, he writes a weekly political column for the Gannett News Service which serves the Gannett Company Inc.’s 102 daily newspapers. The column also appears on the website.

He has covered the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He also has covered the presidential campaigns of 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004.

Benedetto received his B.A. from Utica College of Syracuse University and holds an M.A. in Journalism from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication. Syracuse University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1992.

Benedetto has lectured at colleges and universities across the country and has received numerous journalism awards. In 2005, he served as a visiting professor at the University of Colorado and St. Bonaventure University. He also taught news writing and reporting as an adjunct professor at Utica College. He was honored in 1998 with the National Italian-American Foundation Media Award for his projection of a positive image for Italian-Americans. Benedetto wrote a memoir of his long reporting career, “Politicians Are People, Too,” that was published in 2005 by University Press of America.

Richard Boyd, Georgetown University
Professor, American Political Thought

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 PoliticsPolitical 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."

Karen M. Czarnecki, George Mason School of Law
Professor, Internship Seminar - Public Policy and International Affairs

Karen M. Czarnecki currently serves as the director of education at the Law and Economics Center at George Mason School of Law. Previously she served as the Chief of Staff to Rep. Mike Kelly and as a senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. She joined the Labor Department in June of 2001, and in June 2003 she was appointed Director of the Office of the 21st Century Workforce. In addition, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Intergovernmental Affairs, giving her responsibility for outreach to state and locally-elected officials. Czarnecki received her BA and juris doctorate degrees from Catholic University of America and is also an alumna of the ICPES program.

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