The course offers students who have worked as interns or volunteers an interdisciplinary framework within which to think together about what it means to give. We will explore philanthropy’s diverse forms over time and across cultures; its philosophical underpinnings; its complex interrelationships with modern notions of charity, advocacy, and democracy; and its often paradoxical effects on social relations and public policy. The first half of the course considers what it means to foster a “love of humanity,” to offer and receive “the kindness of strangers,” to practice charity as a civic or religious obligation, as a status building stratagem or, simply, to help. We will look at how these diverse philanthropic expectations are laid out in various religious traditions, as well as in written works by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Alexis de Tocqueville, George Eliot, Marcel Mauss, Jane Addams, Ama Ata Aidoo, and Michael Ignatieff, and in images created by selected artists and filmmakers. The second half of the course examines case studies and literary representations of philanthropic efforts and outcomes in a variety of social situations, from the perspectives of donors and recipients; board members and volunteers; advocacy groups, policy makers, and non-governmental organizations.
Not open to first-year students. Priority will be given to students who have recent experience working as volunteers or interns. This course may be used for credit towards the major in English and Black Studies.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Cobham-Sander and Ms. Mead, Director of the Center for Community Engagement.
If Overenrolled: Priority will be given to students who have recent experience working as volunteers or interns.