Social innovation center to launch Feb. 11

February 6, 2014

The Beeck Center for Social Innovation & Impact, which aims to promote innovation in addressing social issues, will launch with a kick-off event featuring some guest lecturers in the field on Feb. 11.

The Center, which is part of the Provost’s Office, was funded by a gift from Olga María (SFS ’81) and Alberto Beeck, parents of current undergraduate students. It will be directed by Sonal Shah, professor of the practice and former director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation at the White House, and former White House Fellow Mark Hanis.

“It’s not just about the business school, law school and med school, it’s for everyone,” Shah said. “Instead, it’s [a question of] how do we solve social issues across all disciplines?”

According to Shah, the Beeck Center will foster the skills of social innovation through classes and programs, innovation labs, speaker events, and a Fellows program, which will invite experts to teach those interested in social innovation. These offerings will be targeted towards current students as well as practitioners, alumni, and community members.

The center will work alongside preexisting social impact groups on campus, including the Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic and Startup Hoyas and aims to augment preexisting projects, according to Shah. In conjunction with the Center, Startup Hoyas plans to hold a Social Innovation Competition for students to pitch social entrepreneurial ideas this month.

Shah stressed the importance of this center’s role within Georgetown, explaining that academic institutions have the ability to push agendas and ask questions in ways that many businesses, nonprofits and the government cannot.

“Other universities that have social innovation often tend to see it from a business only perspective or nonprofit perspective, but Georgetown being in D.C. has the opportunity to engage the public sector,” Hanis said.

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