A Human Rights-Based Approach to Youth Work

This e-study tells the story of three experienced youth workers who have embraced a rights-based approach to their work with young people. During their year in the NorthStar Youth Worker Fellowship, they dug deep into readings and discussions of human rights work and wrote white papers on the topic. This e-study invites people who work with and on behalf of youth to look critically at their own practices as well as the youth policy stances of the organization and community in which they work.    See full post

Casa de Esperanza

This e-case highlights the leadership and management of a small nonprofit organization through its pursuit of mission critical but underfunded work. Casa de Esperanza is a domestic violence shelter founded in the early 1980s. Originally established to offer culturally-appropriate shelter services to Latina victims of domestic violence, Casa has grown tremendously over the years to include advocacy and systems-change work towards their mission of mobilizing Latinas and Latino communities to end domestic violence.    See full post

Writing Management Memos

This video brief provides a quick introduction to a commonly used tool in the professional setting: the management memo. Management memos help public affairs professionals, whether public or non- governmental, at all levels communicate their ideas within and throughout their organization. Management memos are used to quickly and efficiently transmit information between individuals and teams in order to foster the collective understanding of a given issue or problem facing the organization.    See full post


Increasingly people in nonprofits, business, government, and community groups realize that they must collaborate if they are to find lasting remedies to complex shared problems such as homelessness, regional development, and unemployment. This video brief highlights the benefits of cross-sector collaboration for responding to public problems and opportunities. It also notes the disadvantages of collaborating, such as the greater time demands on the partners at the outset of the project.    See full post

The Clothes I Wear

Perceptions of ‘otherness’ are a normal part of human development; as they mature, children move from a focus on themselves to an understanding of their place within groups, and learn to conform to group norms and to distinguish between “friends and foes (see Tajfel & Turner’s work on Social Identity Theory). Preferences for one’s own group and the perception that it is better, more competent and stronger than other groups can lead to prejudice if perceived differences of out-group members are seen as a threat to the in-group’s culture, politics or economic status. In particular, perceived cultural differences between immigrants and the dominant culture may serve as a barrier to positive intercultural relations. Differences... Continue reading


This e-case focuses on how demographic changes in Worthington—a rural southwest Minnesota town—led to the identification of a leadership gap between the dominant/minority population. It also highlights the accompanying socio-economic (e.g. housing) and educational (e.g. English literacy) challenges faced by the large number of new Americans arriving in the Worthington area, and the possible responses the community has pursued in alleviating these challenges. There are a number of community-level leadership decisions to identify and address issues brought on by demographic change, including development and implementation of a leadership program targeting diverse community leaders in a dominant white cultural context.    See full post

Spatial Thinking: US Local Government System

This video brief provides an introduction to the application of spatial analysis to public affairs issues. This video presents it specifically as a tool to help untangle the complex local government system. In the United States, there are almost 90,000 local governments, including general- purpose local governments such as cities or counties, and special-purpose local governments such as school districts. Their overlapping and adjacent boundaries often make it hard to understand local policy and administrative issues.    See full post

Local Government Innovation

The Local Government Innovation (LGI) e-study takes a look at finalists from the LGI competition sponsored by University of Minnesota's Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center (PNLC) at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Since 2007, the PNLC - with co-sponsors League of Minnesota Cities, Association of Minnesota Counties, and the Minnesota School Board Association - has used this competition to exhibit the best examples of innovative programs and strategies being implemented at the local government level throughout Minnesota. This e-study can be used to explore how local governments utilize resources and approach common problems that face many cities and regions.    See full post

Mission Convergence

This e-case presents a critical question of how public policy innovation develops, adapts and survives in bureaucratic and political power structures in Delhi, India. Through a discussion of the background, design and implementation of Mission Convergence, a government-NGO collaboration to reform the welfare system, this e-case challenges students to think critically about the reasons for as well as impact of innovative pro-poor initiatives in an otherwise exclusionary environment.    See full post

The Nonprofit Executive Director's Journey

This case is about the experience of becoming an executive director (ED) or chief executive officer (CEO) in a nonprofit organization. The case is designed to explore the central challenges associated with leading in the nonprofit sector, focusing on how to establish a leadership agenda for the organization and how to manage people over time to deliver on the mission of the organization.    See full post