Social and Public Innovations

Course Number: GAFL 747

The social sector is changing whether you work in private, nonprofit, or government organizations. The public, as well as leaders in government, social investors and philanthropists are demanding new social models that are cost effective, financially self-sustainable, adaptive to feedback and metrics, with clear outcome accountability measures, and the potential for large-scale impact and systems change.  Traditionally, staff in the social sector, whether young or seasoned, have not come with multidisciplinary training in social innovation and impact, business, legal, or policy backgrounds and therefore do not have the knowledge base from which to bring social enterprise models to fruition.  (W. Nilsson & T. Paddock, Social Innovation from the Inside Out, SSIR Winter 2014).

The Social and Public Innovations and Social Enterprise Practices of Excellence course was created for students interested in the social sector (e.g. social enterprise, nonprofit, government) or managers or leaders who are already in the sector creating the new fourth sector.   While the mission and method of many organizations in the business, government and nonprofit sectors are becoming steadily more similar, something more than simple blurring of the boundaries is occurring. Pioneering organizations in the three sectors are in fact converging toward a fundamentally new organizational sector that integrates social purposes with business methods: a Fourth Sector.

The leadership of this fourth sector needs a multidisciplinary skillset that will create a vibrant social economy. In Stephen Goldsmith’s The Power of Social Innovation: How Civic Entrepreneurs Ignite Community Networks for Good. (John Wiley and Sons, 2010), he notes that to truly create vibrant cities, we need to invent new approaches and then grow and execute these social innovations across systems.

The Social and Public Innovations and Social Enterprise Practices of Excellence course specifically teaches participants working in or with an interest in working in the social sector how to create and maintain an adaptive and generative orientation to grapple with the complex and challenging social reality facing our social sector organizations and leadership.

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Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829