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November 27, 2007 - The opening of the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations in 1997 was marked as an occasion of “celebration, learning, and agenda setting.” Ten years later, the Center is a well-established Harvard University-wide hub for research, collaboration, and critical thinking about issues germane to civil society and nonprofit organizations around the world.
To both celebrate the Center’s first decade and to spark discussion about future challenges facing nonprofit institutions, key players from both past and present convened in Cambridge Nov. 26-27th for the Hauser Center 10th Anniversary Research Colloquium.
“Single sector solutions don’t seem to be working very well. What is striking is how civil society and the nonprofit world are often the glue that provides real answers in ways that are central and exciting," remarked David T. Ellwood, dean of Harvard's Kennedy School, during the lunchtime panel on Tuesday. "The [Hauser] Center has clearly championed this important role for voluntary sector organizations."
The Colloquium was organized around key “intellectual foundations” defined by the Center ten years ago – including theories about the nature, role, and impact of the voluntary sector; the development of international communities that could act effectively to deal with global problems even without a government; and the economic, social and political development of countries emerging from totalitarian regimes. There was broad consensus among participants that the Center’s work over the past decade has helped recast the view of the voluntary and nonprofit sector.
“What we must see when we study and seek to improve the voluntary/nonprofit sector is nothing so simple as a separate producing sector of society,” said Mark Moore, faculty director of the Hauser Center and organizer of the Colloquium, during opening remarks. “What we must see are the processes and institutions that the individuals and groups who constitute societies use to reach shared understandings of what they both value and can produce together, what they owe to one another, and what kind of people they want to be.”
Looking ahead at future challenges facing the nonprofit sector, Hauser Center co-founder Rita Hauser identified several areas that will become increasingly important to address. Primary among them, she said, will be developing an “intellectual framework for judging whether or not the organizations are doing their job...and how they define their jobs.” She also pointed to other challenges including clarifying “guidelines for what are correct conditions for donors to lay down and ask for...and how do you operate within the spirit of the conditions,” and how to incorporate NGOs from abroad into the scholarship and outreach of the Center, among others.
The Research Colloquium formed part of a yearlong schedule of activities celebrating the Center’s 10th including a seminar series throughout the fall semester, and a panel discussion series planned for the spring semester.
For additional information about The Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, please visit: www.ksg.harvard.edu/hauser.
From L to R: Prof. Mary Jo Bane, Dean David Ellwood, and Hauser Center co-founder Rita Hauser
Professor John Ruggie during panel discussion on "Governing without Government."