This new and currently relevant MA in Civil Society, NGO and Non-profit Studies is offered by the University of Kent's highly respected School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research; we are proud to have been ranked at 4th in the UK in the most recent RAE.
As a recognised world, European and national leader in theoretical and applied social science with a strong liberal arts component, the School is uniquely well positioned to deliver this wide ranging and multi-faceted programme utilising contemporary research knowledge. The MA in Civil Society, NGO and Non-profit Studies is designed for well qualified, reflective, curious and profoundly motivated students who wish to gain knowledge of, and the ability to critically analyse, the role that civil society organisations do and should play in political, social and economic life.
This new MA is exceptional in the field in terms of its breadth and depth. For example, most programmes in this area tend to focus largely on management and organisational issues and are associated with business studies style approaches. This MA, by contrast, is able to capitalise on the extraordinary range of multi-disciplinary expertise to be found at SSPSSR and the Faculty of Social Science, capitalising on cutting edge knowledge in policy studies, sociology and political analysis.
Context for the new MA: The growth of international scholarship and policy interest in civil society
The motivations for this area of study differ from place to place: in the UK, for example, emphasis is being placed on this sphere’s pivotal role as a anchor for the ‘Big Society’, and as a response to the limitations of the State; in many parts of East Central Europe, its capability to act as an alternative to market excesses which are given particular weight; while in the developing world it is often its role as an agent for democratisation that attracts most attention. But whatever the balance of reasons, it is agreed that we need to invest in the advancement of knowledge about this part of our social infrastructure.
International research effort has accordingly proliferated in this area. Specialist international associations like ISTR, the International Society for Third Sector Research, have flourished over the past decade or more; nationally based groups, like VSSN in the UK and ARNOVA in the US have increasingly embraced the international and comparative dimension in their fora and events; and many disciplinary scholarly associations now include special interest groups focusing on core aspects of this sphere. Included here are nonprofit enterprise (economics and business studies), altruism, philanthropy and social movements (sociology), pro-social behaviours (social psychology), social capital and governance (political science), and long term trajectories of third sector-state interdependence (historical studies).
The course is suitable for:
- Internationally oriented students who have specialised or majored in undergraduate programmes in civil society, non-profit studies, policy studies or related areas, and wish to develop, deepen and broaden their existing knowledge
- Practitioners working for or with civil society organisations, who have acquired experiential knowledge of aspects of this sphere, and who now wish to deepen their understanding more systematically by engaging with the latest frameworks and techniques for reflection and analysis
- Employees from local, national and international public bodies and third sector representative and voice bodies, who need to develop insights on civil society as part of their efforts to frame, design, implement, analyse and critique civil society policies
The course is flexibly organised, and may be undertaken on a full-time (one year) or part-time (two year) basis. The core, mandatory modules provide a uniquely insightful overview of the long term development of social science thinking about civil society; equip students with the ability to understand and put to work the most relevant approaches to the subject from across disciplines; and provide training in methodological matters. Students then choose from a range of options with strong relevance for civil society development, covering social movements; philanthropy and fundraising; international social policy analysis, and other bodies of knowledge within particular fields.
Students obtain a Diploma on successfully completing these modules. However, many will seek to obtain the full MA by completing a closely supervised dissertation during the summer months which allows them to explore their particular area of interest in depth.
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