The Johns Hopkins International Fellows in Philanthropy Program provides opportunities for highly-qualified researchers studying nonprofit or philanthropic organizations outside the United States to engage in independent research at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies. Research by program participants typically examines an aspect of U.S. nonprofit organizations, often in comparison with nonprofits in their home country, with the expectation that their new knowledge might benefit the nonprofit sector in their home country or region.
In the Fall of 1988, five Fellows from five countries arrived on campus to become the first class of Johns Hopkins International Philanthropy Fellows. In the years since, the Fellows Network has grown to include 150 Fellows from 55 countries, representing virtually every continent and region of the world. The result is a vibrant network of nonprofit professionals who share a common set of experiences and a common base of knowledge about the operations of the nonprofit sector in different parts of the world.
From the concept note, circa 1986:
The purpose of this program would be to offer students and practitioners in the voluntary sector abroad the opportunity to learn first-hand about the character and operation of the American voluntary sector, to encourage leadership development in the sector internationally, and to foster a greater sense of common purpose and mutual understanding among individuals involved in voluntary institutions throughout the world. In the process, the program would help create a truly international community of people who share a common base of knowledge about the nonprofit sector and its role in modern life.
In addition to continuing to bring highly-qualified Fellows to study at the Center, the program convenes regular conferences in different host countries, giving past and present participants in the Fellows program the opportunity to interface with local researchers and practitioners in these different countries, while at the same time broadening understanding of the nonprofit, philanthropic, and voluntary sector at the international level.
Philanthropy Fellows program applicants may choose to participate for either one semester (four months) or a full academic year (nine months). The program follows the Johns Hopkins academic calendar. Participants must complete a research project related to the role or operations of nonprofit or philanthropic organizations in the U.S., often including a comparison between some facet of the U.S. nonprofit sector and that found in the Fellows’ country of residence or region of interest. Research topics have encompassed a wide spectrum of civil society concerns such as transparency and governance; public-private partnerships; nonprofit provision of social services; the marketization of nonprofits; charitable fund-raising; tax policy; the role of foundations; community organizing or empowerment; nonprofits and labor; and volunteerism.