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Governance (GOVN) 380
Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Governance

This version of GOVN 380 closed. To current version.

Delivery mode: Individualized study. Online-enhanced.

Credits: 3 - Social Science

Prerequisite: None.

Centre: Centre for State and Legal Studies

GOVN 380 has a Challenge for Credit option.

Challenge evaluation.


Governance 380: Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Governance is a senior-level, three-credit course that provides an overview of the nonprofit and voluntary sector. The goal of the course is to develop a deeper understanding of the nature of governance, leadership and management in the nonprofit sector in an increasingly complex environment. The course provides students with knowledge of the major conceptual and theoretical perspectives on the voluntary sector, and encourages them to apply what they are learning in a very practical way to understanding and dealing with challenges currently faced by voluntary sector leaders and managers.

The nonprofit or “third” sector is undergoing considerable change and facing an array of new challenges. The offloading of services from governments has created new demands for service delivery, often involving more complex programs and users with special needs. A more competitive funding environment is leading voluntary organizations to experiment with more innovative types of fundraising and to get involve in commercial activities. Pressures for greater accountability and evaluation of effectiveness are requiring new skills and approaches. Relationships with governments are being intentionally redesigned and new means are being sought for voluntary organizations to be involved in policy development. While the primary focus is on the nonprofit and voluntary sector in Canada, at the national, provincial and local levels, examples and experience from the international context will be incorporated as appropriate.

Although Govn 380 is aimed at students in the BPA Law and Governance major, it should be of interest to students seeking an Arts or general interest course.


The course consists of the following eight units.

Unit 1: Overview of the Voluntary Sector: Frameworks and Concepts

Unit 2: The Voluntary Sector in an International Context

Unit 3: Social Capital and Volunteerism

Unit 4: Service Delivery in a Restructured Welfare State

Unit 5: Engagement in Policy Development

Unit 6: Governance, Leadership and Accountability

Unit 7: Financing, Fundraising, and Philanthropy

Unit 8: Managing in a Complex Environment: The Road Ahead


To receive credit for GOVN 380, you must complete all of the assignments, achieve a minimum mark of 50 percent on both midterm and final examinations, and obtain a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent). The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Mid-term Final exam Research essay Total
30% 30% 40% 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Peter Frumkin. On Being Nonprofit: A Conceptual and Policy Primer. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Other materials

The course materials include student manual, study guide, reading file, online enhancements, and forms.