Mark Sidel

Doyle-Bascom Professor of Law and Public Affairs

Mark  Sidel

Room 6104, Law School

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Mark Sidel (LinkedIn)


AB (History), Princeton University
MA (History), Yale University
JD, Columbia Law School


Mark Sidel is Doyle-Bascom Professor of Law and Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an elected member of the American Law Institute. He has served for many years as consultant for Asia at the Washington-based International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), focusing on China, India and Vietnam, and joined the ICNL board of directors in June 2022. Since 2020 Sidel has also served as visiting professor of law at Cardozo Law School in New York.

Sidel is affiliated for research with Liverpool Law School, Charity Law and Policy Unit (as Chair in Global Justice-designate and Honorary Professor in Law); the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy (CSIP) in New Delhi; the US-Asia Law Institute (USALI) at NYU Law School; the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management (CNSM) at City University of New York, Baruch College; and the University of Western Australia Law School.

In 2016 and 2017 Sidel served as the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Visiting Chair in Community Philanthropy at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University; in spring 2018 as Ian Potter Foundation Fellow at the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies in Brisbane; and in February-March 2020 as visiting scholar at the University of Western Australia Law School in Perth. 

In addition to his academic work, Sidel has served as president of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR), the international academic association working to strengthen research on civil society, philanthropy and the nonprofit sector; on the Council on Foundations Community Foundations National Standards Board, the national accrediting and standard setting body for American community foundations and trusts; and on the boards of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), and other organizations.

Advising and consulting assignments have included SIDA/Indevelop (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, on human rights programs in China); the government of Denmark (Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Danish development cooperation, on human rights and legal reform programs in Vietnam); the Ford Foundation (on legal reform programs in China); the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (on human rights and legal reform programming in China and Vietnam); the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (on philanthropic law and policy in China); and many other international and donor organizations. Over the past several years Sidel has assisted a wide range of US and other organizations with issues under the Chinese Overseas NGO Law.

Professor Sidel has served as Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Melbourne Law School, Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po, in the chaire Asie), Brooklyn, Cardozo, Victoria, Vermont, Miami and Denver law schools and other institutions, and as W. G. Hart Lecturer in Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London.

In 2008 he won the ICNL-Cordaid Civil Liberties Prize for his work on the impact of anti-terrorism law on civil society in comparative perspective, and in 2012 he was named to the Outstanding Academic Award by the Nonprofit Organizations Committee of the American Bar Association, Business Law Section. He is a graduate of Princeton University (A.B. in history), Yale University (M.A. in history), and Columbia Law School.

Professor Sidel has consulted or advised in a number of cases, including

Sidel has frequently served and is frequently cited as an appointed expert for British firms and courts in human trafficking cases involving Vietnam (on a number of occasions), China, and the Philippines.  He has also consulted with the U.S. State Department on human trafficking and labor law issues. 

Research and publications

Professor Sidel's research and writing focus on the nonprofit sector and philanthropy (with a focus on Asia and the United States); modern secessionary movements; and constitutional law in China and Vietnam.

In addition to scholarly and policy articles, his books include:

  • Regulatory Waves: Comparative Perspectives on State Regulation and Self-Regulation in the Nonprofit Sector (Cambridge University Press, 2017, ed. with Oonagh Breen and Alison Dunn)
  • Central-Local Relations in Asian Constitutional Systems (Hart Publishing, 2015, ed. with Andrew Harding)
  • State, Society and the Market in Contemporary Vietnam: Property, Power and Values (Routledge 2012; paper ed. 2015, ed. with Hue-Tam Ho Tai) 
  • Regulation of the Voluntary Sector: Freedom and Security in an Age of Uncertainty (Routledge 2010)
  • The Constitution of Vietnam: A Contextual Analysis (Hart 2009)
  • Law and Society in Vietnam (Cambridge University Press 2008)
  • Cinema, Law, and the State in Asia (Palgrave MacMillan 2007, ed. with Corey Creekmur)
  • Vietnam's New Order: International Perspectives on the State and Reform (Palgrave Macmillan 2006, ed. with Stephanie Balme)
  • More Secure, Less Free? Antiterrorism Policy and Civil Liberties after September 11 (University of Michigan Press 2004, updated 2nd ed. 2007)
  • Philanthropy and Law in South Asia (APPC 2004, ed. with Iftekhar Zaman, updated ed. 2007)
  • Old Hanoi (Oxford University Press, 1998)

Sidel's work has also appeared in ChinaFile, US-Asia Law Institute Perspectives, Nonprofit Policy ForumAlliance,, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Michigan Law Review, Voluntas, Third Sector ReviewAlliance, Michigan Journal of International Law, Pittsburgh Law Review, Texas International Law Journal, Tulane Law Review, Charity Law and Practice Review, UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal, UC Davis Law Review, Chicago-Kent Law ReviewChina Quarterly, Asian Survey, SAIS Review, Signs, and other academic and professional journals, as well as in edited volumes.

Sidel is honored to have collaborated on research and writing with Stephanie Balme, the late Barnett Baron, Oonagh Breen, Corey Creekmur, Dana Doan, Alison Dunn, the late Peter Geithner, Andrew Harding, Robert JarvisDavid MarrHu Ming, David Moore, Christopher Pallas, Son Pham, Hue-Tam Ho TaiIftekhar Zaman, Zhang Qianjin, Zhang Ye and other distinguished colleagues.

External and earlier activities

Sidel has extensive experience in international philanthropic and funding communities. He served on the Ford Foundation team with Peter Geithner, Zhang Ye and other colleagues that established the Foundation's office in China and as the Foundation's first program officer for law, legal reform, and nonprofit organizations based in China (Beijing) in the late 1980s.

In the early and mid-1990s, he developed and managed the Ford Foundation's programs in Vietnam. Later he developed and managed the regional program on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector for the Ford Foundation in South Asia (New Delhi). Sidel also served on the Ford Foundation's Endowment Working Group and as a drafter of the Foundation's endowment handbook and has consulted for the Foundation. 

Before coming to Wisconsin, Sidel served as Professor of Law, Lauridsen Family Fellow, and Faculty Scholar at the University of Iowa. He serves on the boards of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, and The Rights Practice (US), and until recently on the boards of the ACLU of Wisconsin and Asia Catalyst (US) and the advisory board for the Lin Centre for Community Development (Ho Chi Minh City). He is a member of the editorial or editorial advisory boards of Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations; Journal of Civil Society; Third Sector Review (Australia); USALI Perspectives (US-Asia Law Institute, NYU); Development in PracticeAsian Journal of Law and Society; and the Australian Journal of Asian Law (Melbourne).

Sidel practiced law with Baker & McKenzie in New York, Beijing and Hong Kong and is a non-active member of the New York bar. He speaks and reads Chinese and reads Vietnamese.

Updated August 2023

Scholarship & Publications


Law Repository

Research Interests

  • Nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in the United States, China, India, Vietnam and in comparative perspective
  • Civil society and the law in Asia
  • Contemporary secessionist movements in the US, Australia and Canada
  • Comparative constitutionalism, particularly in China, Vietnam, and other parts of Asia
  • Human trafficking


  • Mark Sidel has been elected to the board of trustees of the China Medical Board, an American private foundation originally founded by the Rockefeller family that has been active in China and elsewhere in Asia for over 100 years to contribute to better health and health equity in China and the region.

  • Mark Sidel spoke on "Taxing the business income of charities" on a comparative panel at the Charity Law Association of Australia and New Zealand (remotely) on July 3, 2024. 

  • Mark Sidel presented at the University of Liverpool's Symposium on Challenges in Nonprofit Law Since the 1990s on "Disciplining Altruism: The Rise of Regulatory Constraints on Volunteering in Comparative Perspective" on June 18, 2024. He worked with Liverpool colleagues in organizing the symposium in his role as visiting chair in global justice at Liverpool.

  • Mark Sidel presented to the China Research Workshop at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego on May 24, 2024, on Regulating Society in China: The Origins and Functions of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Social Affairs Department.

  • Mark Sidel gave the Samuel and Mary Abramson Distinguished Lecture at Louisiana State University Shreveport on April 29, 2024. He discussed organizational, funding and legal implications of scaling up nonprofit organizations and nonprofit activity in the U.S. and in comparative perspective.

  • Mark Sidel gave a keynote presentation for the China Philanthropy Summit at Indiana University on April 26, 2024, focusing on paths forward for China-U.S. philanthropic exchanges and research after the pandemic and in the midst of bilateral conflict. The conference was convened by Indiana's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the IU Global Gateway and the Chinese School of Philanthropy in Guangzhou.

  • Sumudu Atapattu, Joshua Braver, Heinz Klug and Mark Sidel spoke on global perspectives on civic health at the UW-Madison Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies conference on civic health on April 16, 2024.

  • Mark Sidel presented to the Philanthropy Research Workshop at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy on the political regulation and restrictions on nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in India and China on March 19, 2024.

  • Mark Sidel presented on the growing restrictions on civic space, civil society and the nonprofit community in Vietnam at a University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Southeast Asian Studies Friday Forum on March 8, 2024.

  • Mark Sidel was appointed visiting chair in global justice at the University of Liverpool School of Law and Social Justice, where he will collaborate with colleagues at Liverpool and elsewhere on civil society regulation and other academic projects.

  • Mark Sidel spoke on the challenges of researching philanthropic history, particularly Ford Foundation history, at an international gathering of leaders of civil society research centers at the Rockefeller Archive Center in Pocantico, New York, on Feb. 2, 2024. 

  • Mark Sidel spoke on "The New Central Social Affairs Department of the Chinese Communist Party and its Impact on Social Policy in China" at the China Governance Workshop of the Center for Governance and Markets at the University of Pittsburgh (online) on Jan. 24, 2024.

  • Mark Sidel has been reappointed as a senior advisor at the Penn Project on the Future of U.S.-China Relations, which is based at the University of Pennsylvania and supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Henry Luce Foundation and other funders.

  • Mark Sidel presented on new institutional aspects of Party control over social policy in China, and China's policies toward overseas foundations and nongovernmental organizations at the annual meeting of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action in Orlando, Florida, in November 2023. 

  • Mark Sidel has been elected to the American Law Institute, the private, independent, nonprofit organization that publishes Restatements of the Law, Principles of the Law and model codes and seeks to clarify, modernize and improve the law and the administration of justice in the United States.

Teaching Areas

  • Comparative Law
  • Contracts
  • Human Trafficking and Involuntary Servitude
  • Nonprofit and Philanthropic Organizations
  • Torts
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