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Data for Good

How Data (and Its Tech) Can Impact the Good

How can data be harnessed for good? This is a class about how to use analytics to help humanity, engage communities, improve nonprofit impacts, invest grant dollars strategically, and share data ethically and equitably with the producers of this treasured resource: everyday people.


Students will hone their data literacy skills by learning to read a variety of data forms, understanding their significance for lessening complex social problems, and critically considering their unintended consequences.


A key aspect of the course is attention to data visualization: the ability to tell compelling stories with data that improve society and help communities to flourish.

NextGen Tech & Social Change

P530-34760: NextGen Teach & Social Change

This course describes the role of technology in helping to explain generational changes with philanthropic activities, including the intergenerational evolution of philanthropy, social media enabled engagement, and “Next-Gen” stability and transformation of existing philanthropic practices. The course emphasizes technology and data analytics by describing new trends in society and in research practices, and it responds to these trends by considering ways younger generations are replicating or changing existing philanthropic and knowledge practices.


The rise of big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data analytics have affected many aspects of society. With the rise of data analytics, there is a push to make decisions based on the insights from these digital datasets rather than relying solely on experience or intuition. Thus, students need to build skills in interpreting data for organizational decisions, and a subset also can also produce and analyze data.

Philanthropy and the Social Sciences

PHST 210: Assessing the Social Impacts of Doing Good

This course introduces the analytical approaches that the social sciences bring to the study of philanthropy. The course surveys the role of philanthropy in promoting social justice and civil society; intersections of philanthropy with important issues in the social sciences, such as race, class, gender, religion, and youth; reviews organizational theories; and provides examples of philanthropy analytics, both traditional modes of data collection and contemporary data science.


Within this context, the course will survey the history of the wealthy class contributing to public goods, gender in philanthropy, an overview of culture, and race, ethnicity as it relates to philanthropy, and the ways that philanthropy intersects with religion and youth issues, especially as related to inequality. Subsequently, the course will summarize key organizational theories, empirical approaches, and the role of digitization and data science in affecting contemporary philanthropy analytics.

Introduction to Philanthropic Studies

P201: Introduction to Philanthropic Studies

This course introduces the field of philanthropic studies, a discipline that “seeks to reflect on its subject as well as see its work carried forward into the world” (Turner 2004). The course surveys the issues and diverse roles played by philanthropic acts and actors in society. It provides an overview of philanthropy in the scholarly fields of the social sciences and the humanities, and introduces the prominent research questions in the teaching, theory, and practice of philanthropy.  


Throughout the semester, we will visit several philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. The goal of these visits is for students to engage in high impact activities within real-world contexts. Students will meet with organizational representatives to learn about the organization’s philanthropic activities, as well as to develop greater understanding for the personal and professional trajectories of real philanthropic leaders. 

Introduction to Sociology

SOCI 2013: General Sociology

This class centers on the essentials of thinking sociologically about our individual and group lives. Students are taught to see the limits in individualistic focuses to – still respect the role that individuals play in society while also learning to – view the more macro-level process of group interactions in the formation of broad social patterns.


The primary course objective is to learn about the social lives of people, groups, and societies in order to examine: (a) how participation in social life influences personal life outcomes and (b) how people’s actions, relationships, and experiences create, influence, and transform social structures.


Throughout the entire course, students will learn how social groups and processes, socialization, social structures, and social inequality form the basis for social interactions across contexts. 

Social Theory

SOCI 4023: Social Theory

This is a class about social theory. The majority of the course will focus on classical works in social theory originating in the 19th century and continuing to impact theory and empirical studies today. Contemporary theories will also be engaged in the class.  


What is social theory? Kivisto (2013, p. xxi), among others, describes it as: “tools of analysis,” “lenses into aspects of social reality,” “interpretive,” about social structures and/or about the agency of social actors in cultural milieus. Many contemporary social theorists refer to social theory pluralistically, as having knowledge that is contested in attempts to make sense of social reality through multiple paradigms with non-singular visions and traditions (e.g. Seidman 2013; Levine 1995; Ritzer 1975). Some (e.g. Goffman 1982) think that social theory should have practical value in being applied to solve social puzzles. Others do not necessarily. All this and more will be discussed in reading the works of original social theorists as compiled by Kivisto (2013).

Emerging Adulthood

SOCI 4013: Coming of Age in the 21st Century

Emerging adulthood is a new stage of life that falls in between adolescence and adulthood. It is the age of identity exploration, instablity, self-focus, "in-betweeness", and possibilities.


Arnett, the coiner of the term emerging adulthood, describes this life stage by saying: “It tends to be an age of high hopes and great expectations, in part because few of their dreams have been tested in the fires of real life” (Arnett 2000).


The sociology of emerging adulthood begins with a social understanding of the life course. Mayer (2009) states: "Life course development is analyzed as the outcome of personal characteristics and individual action as well as of cultural frames and institutional and structural conditions (relating micro, meso, and macro levels of analysis, structure, and agency)."

Urban Sociology

SOCI 3153: Urban Sociology

This course explores major theories and empirical works in urban sociology, with a focus on social inequalities in urban spaces.


Topics include urban disparities in socioeconomic status, education, crime and disorder, racial/ethnic inequalities, and environmental concerns.


The course focuses on structural and cultural explanations for urban inequality, including industrialization, segregation, suburbanization, social capital, and globalization.


U.S. cities are the primary focus of the course, with some discussion of globalization and increasing urbanization around the world. 

The City

SOCI 4013: The City

This course examines the social role of cities. The majority of the world’s population now lives in cities, but what is a city and what are its roles?


Students graduating in today's global economy need to be prepared to live in, or at the very least work with people living in, city environments. 


Students will learn to ask and seek to answer: How do we best understand the growing phenomenon of urbanization? What social impacts do cities have? What social problems result in cities? What social benefits do cities have, and how can cities be resilient? What is a creative city, and how can cities attract innovative talent for the new, global economy?

Social Problems

SOCI 2033: Social Problems

This course is designed to introduce students to the study of social problems, such as problems associated with economic inequality and poverty, education, race and ethnicity, immigration, crime and deviance, drugs and alcohol, families, domestic violence, consumerism, and politics. Course discussions will be designed to answer the questions: What defines a social problem? What do we know about social problems? How can we measure them? What, if anything, can be done to overcome social problems? 


The goal of this course is to show students the impact of social institutions and social interactions on human behavior in the development of or response to social problems. The course will include an overview of concepts and main theoretical perspectives used in sociology and an application of these theories to the study of social problems. This course will require development of critical analysis skills in viewing multiple social problems in the United States. 

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Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, IUPUI  I  psherzog@iupui.edu

©2020 Patricia Snell Herzog, Indianapolis, IN, USA All rights reserved.

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