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Civil Society Workshop (CSW)


The Civil Society Workshop joins forces with the Politics and Protest workshop starting in the Fall 2020 semester. We are now the “Society and Protest Workshop!” 

Please check our new website where we will be posting announcements, calls for contributions, and other workshop materials from now on.


An inter-disciplinary research working group hosted by the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the Graduate Center, CUNY.

About the Workshop

At a reception hosted by the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, a group of Graduate Center PhD students discovered that we are all confronting questions of civil society and philanthropy and doing our research in isolation. Our disciplines have their own language around civil society topics, and sometimes these are limiting in their ability to explain the phenomena we are documenting in our research. We decided to form a Working Group on Civil Society and Philanthropy in order to address these limitations.

Stuck in our intellectual silos, we may not realize that there are other relevant bodies of literature in other disciplines related to our research questions. We would benefit from sharing resources and ideas, as well as exposure to other theories, frameworks and methods used in other disciplines. Furthermore, the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society is a convening point for students and practitioners, including its large network of international fellowship alumni, which often goes unnoticed within the Graduate Center.

We use the term “civil society” in an inclusive way, not just institutionalized NGOs and nonprofits, but associations, informal social movements, foundations, community philanthropy, giving circles, advocacy and activism. Any way in which private individuals collaborate and cooperate in solidarity with one another.

How it works:

  • Meets twice a month during the semester
  • Available to graduate students and professors to share papers, presentations, and research questions/proposals in early stages for feedback and ideas
  • Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society’s International Fellows and Fellowship alumni are welcome to attend and present when they are in NYC
  • Non-CUNY students and professors invited to attend and present
  • Practitioners can also present about their work and benefit from scholarship in the field.

Our aim is to connect students with mentors, research, and other opportunities for their work, and connect scholars and practitioners with research in the field.

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Civil Society Workshop Steering Committee

  • Merrill Sovner, Political Science, msovner@gradcenter.cuny.edu
  • Anna Zhelnina, Sociology, azhelnina@gradcenter.cuny.edu
  • Jessica Mahlbacher, Political Science, jmahlbacher@gradcenter.cuny.edu
  • Trang Kelly, Social Welfare, tkelly@gradcenter.cuny.edu
  • David Monda, Political Science, dmonda@gradcenter.cuny.edu