Globally, social innovation is on the rise—and the University at Buffalo is helping lead the way.
All around us, organizations in the private, public, nonprofit and government sectors are coming together to provide social and economic value, and tackle some of society's greatest challenges. Poverty and injustice, access to affordable housing and quality health care, climate change and sustainable food sourcing are a few of the significant issues facing society. One organization cannot tackle these sweeping challenges alone, and business must play a role in finding solutions.
For those reasons, social innovation is an important strategic initiative at UB and in the School of Management. In the spirit of collaboration, we've embarked on a truly interdisciplinary partnership with the UB School of Social Work, allowing action-oriented students to learn from each other's diverse backgrounds, work with faculty from both schools and make an impact on our local and global communities.
Through UB's Social Impact Fellows program, MBA and MSW students, along with graduate students from the College of Arts and Sciences, create social innovation in Western New York. Presented in collaboration with UB’s Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars, the program brings students together to collaborate and address pressing social issues at local mission-driven organizations.
Through experiential learning opportunities in such countries as Ghana and Costa Rica, students learn about diverse cultures, see firsthand issues facing people around the world and surround themselves with social innovation. Through these experiences, students gain the global perspective needed for success in today's business world.
The School of Management and School of Social Work, in collaboration with UB's Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars, offered a series of half-day workshops to students from across campus. Students received an overview of the lean startup methodology and mission-driven business models, and then completed an exercise, modeled after Google sprints, to generate ideas for local nonprofits.
Student learning is central to our social innovation initiative. Co-taught by faculty members from management and social work, the course gives students a comprehensive introduction to the social sector, the process of innovation and how to measure social impact, as well as examples of organizations using social innovation to improve communities.