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Engaged Scholarship Classes in Social Innovation & Social Entrepreneurship

Classes in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship are hosted in multiple departments at Swarthmore College. Check back frequently for updated information as courses are announced!


Systems Thinking for Social Change is a SIL led, 1/2 credit course that aims to examine and explore the complex, often described as "wicked problem" ecosystems around difficult societal issues facing communities. By applying the principles and techniques of systems thinking approaches, students will reflect on the potential leverage points or nexus that might affect the greatest shift towards positive social impact if addressed through social innovatio interventions. This kind of systems thinking analysis is often seen as a precursor to building social innovation solutions, such as prototypes for new processes, services, or products.

The course will be team taught by Prof. Denise Crossan (Lang Visiting Professor of Issues of Social Change), Dr. Jennifer Magee (Senior Associate Director, Lang Center), and Nimesh Ghimire (Senior Fellow, Social Innovation & Engaged Scholarship)

JPNS036. Environment, Cultural Memory, and Social Change in Japan

This course will explore the history, contemporary situation, and future possibilities regarding the interlinked realms of the environment, historical trauma, and social movements in Japan. Topics will include the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings and the subsequent peace and anti-nuclear movements, the environmental movement in Japan, and the "triple disaster" earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima and Northeastern Japan. We will also discuss how environmental issues intersect with other current social issues such as rural depopulation, an aging population, and gender and economic inequality, and study a variety of contemporary approaches to addressing these issues. In addition, under the guidance of Lang Professor for Social Change Denise Crossan, we will study the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship as a vehicle for social change and explore possible applications of this model in Japan. Pending administrative approval, we will offer a 0.5 Experiential Learning practicum following the end of the spring class term, in which we will travel to the Tokyo and Hiroshima areas to engage in discussions and exchanges with on-site partners in environmental studies, peace studies, and social entrepreneurship.


PEAC039. Social Entrepreneurship for Social Change 

Social entrepreneurship is concerned with entrepreneurial responses to demanding and unmet social needs (not adequately served by market or by state). Through in-depth case analysis, we will consider the context of social entrepreneurial activity (such as the peace and reconciliation movement in Northern Ireland), the individuals who become engaged in impacting social need (locally, nationally and globally), along with organizing and undertaking activities and addressing needs effectively.

PEAC049.  Be the Change: Social Entrepreneurship in Principle and Practice 

Amidst market implosions, human conflict, environmental crises, and on-going demise of the welfare state, the need for new, durable organizational forms, committed to social change, is clear. Social entrepreneurship offers a unique model for creative conflict transformation and community problem solving. Using business practices, social enterprises seek to redress social and environmental concerns while generating revenue. Students will learn about the manifestation of social entrepreneurship principles and practice in non-profit, for-profit, and hybrid organizations. Then students will draft plans for their own social enterprise, thereby garnering a deeper understanding of social enterprise as organizational forms, while also embarking on a journey to explore their own potential as social entrepreneurs.