I am a graduate student at the University of Utah in the political science department. Currently, I am working toward a Ph.D. and anticipate graduating in 2016. I study public administration, the nonprofit sector, American government, civil society, civic engagement, and food policy. I am interested in the new food movements as interventions in the existing political economy generally, and in the industrial food system more specifically, and am a member of the Food Studies Group at the university (http://foodstudies.utah.edu/people.php). Nonprofit organizations are frequently at the heart of these movements for social change, and I would like to better understand how staff, board members, and volunteers see their roles in creating change.
For my dissertation, I am using critical discourse analysis to examine how elites, experts, and practitioners talk about the nonprofit sector in the United States. More specifically, I am analyzing presidential announcements regarding the sector, nonprofit higher education textbooks, and interviews with leaders of nonprofit organizations. I want to understand what the discourse tells us about how the role of government in our society is conceived, about the role of nonprofits in society. This is important because for many of us nonprofits are the sites of our hopes and dreams and because we have decided to have nonprofits deliver many of our public goods and services. We have not, however, had a collective conversation about the advantages and disadvantages of approaching social problems through nonprofits which are largely unaccountable to the public. My thinking about this is evolving, and I continue to learn from my research, from colleagues, from mentors, and from students.