Recently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched a new State Department initiative called A Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society (see http://geneva.usmission.gov/2011/02/16/strategic-dialogue). The stated goal for this 18-month program is:
“[t]o elevate the importance of our relationships with nongovernmental organizations alongside our government-to-government relationships. The Dialogue will also help coordinate the Department’s civil society efforts and reinforce the message that all governments need to engage their citizens and work in partnership with civil society.”
Today, I am launching this blog to share how Dr. Naomi Wish (the Director of Seton Hall’s Center for Public Service; http://www.shu.edu/academics/artsci/public-service/index.cfm), Barkley Calkins (the Director of Seton Hall’s Nonprofit Sector Resource Institute; http://www.shu.edu/academics/artsci/nsri ) and I (Associate Professor in Seton Hall’s Department of Political Science and Public Affairs; http://www.shu.edu/academics/profiles/profile-details.cfm?customel_datapageid_148360=174340 ) are joining this initiative.
Here is the plan: Seton Hall is partnering with the University of Dohuk (http://www.uod.ac/), a large regional university in Kurdistan, to develop a certificate curriculum in Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) management. The draft plan has seven training modules, ranging from ethical decision making to financial management, fundraising and program evaluation. We will work with professors from the University of Dohuk on this curriculum; they will implement it with roughly 150 NGOs next summer. We will also give a two-day seminar to the Civil Society Committee of the Kurdish Parliament in Erbil, Iraq on the relationship between nonprofits and government in America.
Our purpose, and that of our Kurdish hosts, is twofold. First, we will aim to provide practical, experiential training in the day-to-day management of an NGO. Second, we hope to share practical skills that will help the Kurdish government, academics and the NGO community work together now and in the future.
We have been working on this project for a while. So why am I launching this blog today? Because…
BARKLEY AND I LEAVE FOR IRAQ TODAY.
We are extremely excited about this initiative, our specific project and, yes, about going to Iraq. It is obviously a complicated endeavor, with many logistical details and hurdles to overcome. However, if we are successful, we will have helped create a global model for improving civil society in a practical, hands-on way.