UNH Manchester launches new Public Service and Nonprofit Leadership major


Isabelle Curtis

In partnership with the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Carsey School of Public Policy, the UNH at Manchester announced a new Public Service and Nonprofit Leadership Major.  

The program promises to explore how “leaders and citizens work in and around government and civic organizations to address today’s complex societal problems” and provide students valuable skills for future careers in the public or non-profit sector, according to a UNH press release.  

Stephen Pimpare, senior lecturer in American Politics & Public Policy and coordinator of the new program, has been developing the major since he came to UNH in 2015. One of his main goals was to make UNH Manchester distinct amidst declines in its undergraduate enrollment and political science programs.  

“A lot of what we try to do is distinguish ourselves by the way of experiential and applied learning, so [what we did was] build a program that tapped into that and took advantage of my own background,” he said.  

The Public Service and Nonprofit program is also unique because of its collaboration with the UNH Carsey School. Students will be automatically enrolled in three courses that count toward their undergraduate degree and a master’s degree at Carsey. This will help students to complete their master’s education more quickly.  

Part of the reason behind the partnership was UNH Manchester’s small size and budget. Pimpare explained that by building Carsey courses into the program, they could tap into Carsey’s resources without having to hire additional faculty.  

However, he also stressed the importance of graduate degrees, asserting that they are the new bachelor’s degrees. 

“We [want to] make it possible for as many of our students as possible to go out into the world with that graduate level education,” said Pimpare. “It’s not just that they’re going to be better at what they do, and we’re going to be supplying more talented and knowledgeable people into important jobs, but we increase the chances that they’re going to good jobs with upward mobility.”  

The program was designed to be more accessible for working professionals and busy students with this goal in mind. This includes fully online instruction with later class start times. Durham-based students can also enroll in the program without having to change locations.  

In the Public Service and Nonprofit Leadership program, what students learn in the classroom will correspond with their own real-time field research. For example, during instruction about research design, students will begin conducting their own research around a particular question. Students will participate in workshops to get group feedback and develop their ideas. The program hopes this will help students gain interpersonal skills needed for the corporate and non-profit sector.  

“It’s this constant iterative approach of learning about something in the abstract and then applying it, and then trying to see what happens when you encounter the very particular challenges of doing research in the real world,” explained Pimpare.  

Students will also be expected to complete a semester-long internship, as well as an independent research capstone project. These requirements can be completed separately or combined, said Pimpare. He pointed to a current student who is interning at a lobbying firm in Concord and plans to use her connections to create a podcast about an upcoming bill. Majors can also use other UNH programs, such as Semester in the City, to fulfill their elective and capstone requirements. 

Pimpare hopes that students will use their experiences to learn how to be more active citizens who can inspire change in their community. He recalled how much he hated his job working as a corporate paralegal in New York. It wasn’t until getting involved in non-profits such as Artists for Hunger, and the Food and Hunger hotline that he found fulfillment. He still considers working with the Food and Hunger Hotline to create the first not-for-profit restaurant in New York City one of “the most satisfying things [he’s] ever done.”  

“I hope that [students] emerge from [the program], whether they’re going to go out into the workplace in the public or nonprofit sectors, that they feel prepared to do work that matters to them,” said Pimpare. “I really do care about people finding value in what it is they do.” 

Photo courtesy of UNH Manchester.