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Boston College School of Social Work

Innovation at BC Social Work

Links to various webpages about innovation at BC Social Work

Innovation at BCSSW

BC Social Work has embraced innovation as a core value, and as an approach in all aspects of teaching and research. BCSSW provides a range of curricular and co-curricular offerings in social innovation to students and partner organizations. Our orientation approaches social innovation broadly, and teaches students about the multiple pathways to achieving sustainable social change that enhances social justice. View videos of CSI Co-Directors Stephanie Berzin and Tiziana Dearing.

Defining Social Innovation

Many individuals within both the worlds of practice and academia speak in terms of social innovation and social entrepreneurship, yet, there is a clear need for clarification over the definitions and use of these related terms. Center for Social Innovation Co-Director Stephanie Berzin offers her perspective on four key terms in the field.

Innovation News + Events

Our school blog INNOVATE@BCSOCIALWORK keeps you up-to-date on the latest in BC and social work news, and it provides perspectives from a variety of voices, including students, alumni, faculty, researchers, and leaders in practice.

Center for Social Innovation

The Center for Social Innovation promotes “innovation from within,” a concept that fosters the development and implementation of effective, sustainable innovation at existing social sector agencies. Research at the Center for Social Innovation focuses on both social entrepreneurship and social intrapreneurship, promoting an understanding of multiple pathways to innovation.

Innovation Leadership

BC Social Work’s Co-Directors of the Center for Social Innovation are Associate Professors Stephanie Berzin and Tiziana Dearing.

Berzin co-led the curriculum redesign and the development of the strategic vision for the school’s Macro: Social Innovation + Leadership Program.  In addition, she has developed coursework around social innovation, social entrepreneurship, leadership, and resource development.

Dearing comes to the School of Social Work from the world of practice, where she led a number of anti-poverty organizations, including Boston Rising, a start-up anti-poverty fund, and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston, where she was the first woman president. She teaches in the core cirriculum.

While BCSSW is fortunate to be able to draw from significant faculty expertise in the field of social innovation, the school also hosts multiple initiatives designed to showcase leadership in innovation outside of our campus walls.

  • The school’s Leadership Luncheons provide exposure to inspirational leaders, social entrepreneurs who have launched game-changing initiatives, and to social intrapreneurs who have led their agencies to excellence and shepherded them through innovative change.
  • BCSSW’s annual Social Innovation Symposium invites thought leaders on particular topics to enhance public understanding of innovation pathways.

An Innovative Curriculum

The School of Social Work’s curriculum challenges students to consider both entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial approaches. 

  • The required Social Innovation class supports students learning about social entrepreneurship and social intrapreneurship. It also provides exposure to social enterprise and alternative approaches to innovation using technology, program redesign, and population expansion.
  • A social enterprise class gives students exposure to existing agencies using intrapreneurial approaches to problem-solving, but focuses exclusively on market-principles and business models as the solution.
  • A social intrapreneurship class gives students hands-on experience with the real-life challenges that agencies face when engaging in innovation. 

Social Innovation Day allows students to solve challenging social problems using a range of solutions.  Students become the entrepreneurs setting out to solve pressing problems.

Innovative Place-Based Partnerships

In order for us to be successful, we recognize that, more than dwelling only in metaphorical space, geographic place matters deeply; social science research demonstrates that where someone lives and works can have an impact on educational and health outcomes, even imagination and hope.

By drawing on this power of place, our school has built a set of partnerships to put place-based collaboration at the center of our work. Beginning this past summer, we are exploring and building spaces that bridge research and practice on our Chestnut Hill campus, and off campus, with Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston (CCAB) and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.

Ashoka Changemaker Campus

Boston College has been named a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka, a global association of leading social entrepreneurs. The Changemaker designation recognizes colleges and universities that have embedded social innovation as a core value.