At Future Leaders of Philanthropy: To Grad School or Not to Grad School? The many commenters weigh an MBA, versus a Masters in Philanthropic Management or a specialization in a given issue area, like the environment or urban studies. As for the liberal arts, they did not even come up. No one suggested that a Masters in History, Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Literature, or Languages might provide a relevant breadth of perspective, or depth of culture or discernment. Technical competence, not wisdom, is the path to advancement. And the less liberally educated the top people become the more they will hire more of the same.
In the ideal university where would philanthropy be taught?
- In the Philosophy Department, in Ethics
- In Literature, with an anthology like Amy Kass's, Giving Well, Doing Good
- In the Classics Department so as to work in Aristotle, Cicero, and Seneca
- In Psychology, studying manners, mores, concepts of happiness, the impulse to altruism
- In Sociology, with an emphasis on the formation of social capital and public goods
- In History, studying the relations of social classes, private giving, and government policies
- In Political Science, studying the interplay of wealth, power, law, privilege, and giving
- In World Religions, tracing giving as a virtue or obligation in various religious traditions
- In Law, studying the law of nonprofits and of taxation
- In Finance, studying personal and corporate finance, and the treatment of gifts
- In Business, studying nonprofits as pseudo-businesses to be run within a social capital market.
#9- #11 seem the obvious choices to the Flip commenters. Yet, among the top consultants to wealthy families in philanthropy, you will most often find odd hybrids: Doctorate of Divinity, followed by a law degree; a Masters in Philosophy followed by practical experience in business; Masters of Divinity followed by experience as a fundraiser; Masters in Psychology followed by clinical practice, culminating in working with multi-generational dynastic families; Princeton in the liberal arts, then a law degree and a lifetime of compulsive reading in history, religion and philosophy, culminating in becoming the trusted advisor to several of the world's wealthiest families; folk law, mythology, and literature at Harvard and Stanford culminating in advising the Rockefellers and their friends. These are the backgrounds of people I know, working with the ultra-wealthy. Most of the best are trained in at least one of the humanities, and then somehow landed amidst law, finance. fundraising, nonprofit management, or business. But the underlying training in the humanities is essential if you are to ask the larger questions of meaning and purpose. The more money and power a client or donor has the more urgent it becomes to ask, "What kind of person do you want to be? In what kind of world? Leaving what legacy?" The mean technical trades provide no purchase on the questions of purpose. Some earnest shmuck with an MBA or law degree can always be found when the conversation gets from Why? to How? (So say I with degrees in philosophy, psychology, literature and finance, holding forth from a Dumpster. Wisdom is a Fool's game. Knowing what I know now I would have become a veterenarian. The rich take better care of their pets than of the poor. But it is their money; we as experts are here but to serve.)