Weitzman News

Posted February 8, 2016

Historic Preservation Students Published in 'Nonprofit Quarterly'

A year ago the design press was dominated by headlines about the shuttering of Architecture for Humanity (AFH), the US-based nonprofit that sought architectural solutions to humanitarian crises. According to new analysis by three students in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at PennDesign, AFH’s expansion around the globe strained its finances, and fundraising could not cope with the demands of new work, ultimately leading to its breakdown. It's one of the findings of the students' research on the cessation and restructuring of AFH, which has been published in the winter 2015 edition of Nonprofit Quarterly in an article entitled "Network as the Form: Reconfiguring Architecture for Humanity."

Josh Bevan, Sonja Lengel, and Joseph C. Mester analyzed the organizational structure, project governance, and fundraising efforts of AFH to better understand how it could recover from its fiscal collapse in 2015. “Collaboration, transparency, and the provision of open-source information are driving the transition process,” write the students, highlighting the reorganization of the Chapter Network which is now working to reform the mission of AFH and continue to provide design services to the communities that require them.

The students research was completed for Dr. Chao Guo, an associate professor and Penn Fellow in the School of Social Policy and Practice.  AFH served as one of three case studies inhis course Nonprofit Governance and Management.