New minor to focus on nonprofit organizations

Updated 3/24/16

Emerson will offer a minor in nonprofit communication management this fall, according to Cathryn Cushner Edelstein, senior scholar-in-residence in the communication studies department.

Nonprofits are organizations that work toward a specific cause and do not retain their revenue for profit, instead putting it toward their cause.

There will be two required courses for the minor, both of which were taught for the first time by Edelstein this year. Introduction to Nonprofit Communication Management was introduced in the fall and Campaign Fundraising in the spring. The minor also requires two elective courses with options in communication studies, health communication, theater, and philosophy and religion.

Edelstein said unless there were an overwhelming demand for the two required courses, she would be the only professor teaching them. The class size will cap at 20 students.

In the introductory class, pairs of students are matched with a nonprofit to monitor its external communication and prepare an analysis that examines the organization’s strengths and weaknesses.

“I’m all about students getting real life experience with nonprofits,” Edelstein said.

Students in this semester’s Campaign Fundraising course are currently helping to organize an event to fundraise for burn survivors. Funds from one event, Ignite the Night, will go to HandReach, an organization that works to help child trauma survivors. It will be held in the Bill Bordy Theater on April 16.

Edelstein said she received a $1,000 service learning innovation grant from the college, which the students are using for the project. They have also received three major donations from Shriner’s Hospital for Children, the National Fire Protection Association, and Topical BioMedics.

Edelstein said Emerson would be the only college in Boston with a nonprofit program for undergraduates.

Alexandra Howard, a senior political communication major, took Introduction to Nonprofit Communication Management last semester and currently is taking Campaign Fundraising. She said these courses are the first time she’d worked with nonprofits.

“It’s an opportunity—if people are interested in that field—to really get ahead,” she said. “To start out of undergrad having that experience is just a lot more beneficial and really puts you on top in a much more competitive market.”

Edelstein said the minor was officially supported by the undergraduate curriculum committee and Gregory Payne, chair of the communication studies department, last week It now needs to be approved by Phillip Glenn, interim dean of the School of Communication.

“I think [the minor] aligns with the mission of Emerson right now,” Edelstein said, “which is to be more civically engaged, and to do good to our neighborhood around us.”


The March 24 article “New minor to focus on nonprofit organizations” said that the minor needs to be approved by communication studies department chair Gregory Payne. At the time of print, Payne had already approved the minor. The minor is currently waiting to be approved by Phillip Glenn, interim dean of the School of Communication.