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University of WashingtonSpring 2018Social Justice through PhilanthropyDepartments: Law, Societies and JusticeStephen Meyers25 students
University of WashingtonWinter 2019Social Justice through PhilanthropyDepartments: Law, Societies and JusticeStephen Meyers25 students
University of WashingtonWinter 2020Social Justice through PhilanthropyDepartments: Law, Society and JusticeStephen Meyers25 students
University of WashingtonSpring 2022Social Justice through PhilanthropyDepartments: Law, Society, and JusticeStephen Meyers25 students
University of WashingtonSpring 2023Social Justice through PhilanthropyDepartments: Law, Society and JusticeStephen Meyers25 students

Social Justice through Philanthropy
Taught by Stephen Meyers
Department of Law, Society & Justice

Stephen Meyers is an Associate Professor in Law, Societies & Justice; and International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is also core faculty in the Disability Studies Program and adjunct faculty in the Law School. Currently, Meyers is the Director of the Center for Global Studies and the Chair of the MA in International Studies program in the Henry M Jackson School of International Studies at the UW. In 2019, Meyers co-founded with Megan McCloskey the Disability Inclusive Development Initiative in the International Policy Institute at the Jackson School. The DIDI involves graduate and undergraduate students in applied research projects that advance disability human rights and disability inclusive international development. Meyers is the author of Civilizing Disability Society: The CRPD socializing grassroots disabled persons organizations in Nicaragua (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and more than a dozen peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in journals including Qualitative Sociology, Current History, Disability & Society, Disability Studies Quarterly, and Research in Social Science and Disability. He is also the co-author with Megan McCloskey of UNFPA’s Young Persons with Disabilities: Global Study on Ending Gender-based Violence and Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (2018) and UNESCO’s Violence and Bullying in Educational Settings: The experiences of young people and children with disabilities (2021). Currently, Meyers has two new books under contract. What is Global Disability Studies?, a monograph co-authored with Shixin Huang that will be forthcoming from the University of California Press, and Hierarchies of Disability Human Rights, an edited volume co-edited with Megan McCloskey and Gabor Petri that will be forthcoming from Routledge. Meyers holds a Ph.D in Sociology for the University of California, San Diego and Master degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Harvard University. 

Class has a global focus:

  • “Global Giving” theme that supports human rights, international development, and humanitarian assistance activities.
  • Class has to give to Seattle based orgs implementing projects around the globe.

Class works with group called Global Washington

  • Network of NGOs, businesses, foundations, academics, etc
  • Mission is to support the global development community in Washington
  • Class takes 22 issue areas from Global Washington and narrows it down to 5 to focus on, then creates their own small groups
  • Class solicits proposals from and ultimately awards funding to orgs that are a part of Global Washington

Interesting Grant Making Process:

  • Students pick 5 issue areas
  • Each group researches their issue area and GW orgs
  • Each group solicits proposals from GW orgs
  • GW orgs COME TO CLASS and present projects to students – takes ups 4 classes (instead of site visit)
  • Students evaluate projects
  • Each group presents to class to give their recommendations for which GW orgs to fund
  • Class makes final allocations during “Decision Day”

Students in each group have a specific role:

  • Team manager
  • Writing leader
  • Presentation leader
  • Scheduler
  • Note taker

Guest Speakers

  • Joanne Harrell, First Lady of Seattle
  • Mirte Postema, Senior Program Officer, Independent Journalism Fund, Seattle International Foundation


Latest News

September 14, 2020


Student Testimonials

I enjoyed the hands-on approach that this class offers. It was very interesting to hear from the different organizations and actually interact with them in person. It was also a very unique experience because through our analyzing and decision-making, we were able to make such a great impact with the grant money, which is opportunity that is not offered in any other class!

Mithali SavanthUniversity of Washington

My understanding of development on a global scale has changed because I now am able to understand how to fully analyze methods that organizations present. I used to believe that any kind of giving was good and would make a great impact, but from this class I am able to see that analyzing the different methods is important in order to understand which is the most effective. This has been one of my favorite classes at the University of Washington. The thing I enjoyed the most about the class was having the organizations come to our class. Being able to see many different types of presentation and ideas of how people believe would be the best way to make an impact on the world was very interesting.

Ardita AdiliUniversity of Washington

I have had an overall amazing class experience. The readings have helped shed light on important issues which most donors to aid agencies would never consider. Additionally, our hands-on approach to philanthropy by reviewing the presentations of several NGOs and then presenting on which one we believe is the best is a great way to get students involved in giving.

Ben MacleanUniversity of Washington

I loved this class. It gave us an incredible, hands-on, once in a life time experience. I loved hearing and interacting with all the NGO's, I loved learning about the flaws and strengths of international giving, and I loved learning how to analyze giving from the perspective of someone who was giving the grant. It offered a very unique perspective and made me personally feel like I had a much more in-depth understanding
of philanthropy.

Rebecca AndrewsUniversity of Washington

I went into the class with a skeptical view of philanthropy, seeing that philanthropy has had a negative impact on many countries in the past even if intentions were good. I came out out the class believing philanthropy can make a huge difference in some aspects improving people's life, it implemented well. I believe this really includes engaging the local community and putting members of the local community in positions of leadership.

Fatima FattyUniversity of Washington

This course taught me valuable ways to assess organizations and the different impact different types of giving can have.

Carly BainbridgeUniversity of Washington

After reading Peter Singer's "The Life You Can Save," I've gained a great appreciation for how easy it is to participate in philanthropy. I used to think that only the extravagantly rich can practice meaningful philanthropy. However, I now know that philanthropy can be as simple as giving up unnecessary luxuries and using the money to help out a friend. I also now understand that even a small amount of money can go a long way in a different nation.

Kent VoUniversity of Washington