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Social Innovation

The Social Innovation Initiative is designed to support students in the pursuit of innovative, transformative, and sustainable solutions to social problems.  We believe that the problems facing today's world are more complex than ever before, and solutions require interdisciplinary thinking and cross-sector collaboration. 
Social Innovation

Upcoming Programs

StartUp Experience
November 9 and 10 at Hamilton College

Colgate and Hamilton will bring together a select group of students to take part in an intensive workshop on social entrepreneurship. The students will go through the StartupExperience - an experiential entrepreneurship education program designed to train young people in the art of high-impact entrepreneurship and user-driven innovation. The participants competed in teams to; identify a specific user need -> screen relevant technologies -> generate ideas and conceptualize a solution -> then find a sustainable business model -> and use visual communication and prototyping to pitch the idea to the jury and the end of the workshop.  To participate, contact Krista Saleet,

“I attended the workshop at Colgate. In two intense days, I have learned a lot about entrepreneurship: from researching about customers' problems, generating ideas, building business models to pitching. And Henrik, with his energy and enthusiasm, made the workshop not only educational but also very fun and inspiring. Two days is a great time-commitment to me, but I wish the workshop were longer!”
- Búi Phuong Linh, Colgate '14 who participated last year

Be Social Change Workshop
November 15, 12:30-2:30 p.m. in Lathrop 207

Marcos Salazar and Allie Mahler founders of Be Social Change

Be Social Change is a team of passionate community-builders on a mission to educate, connect, and invest in the next generation of change makers creating bold, innovative social impact. Whether you’re an entrepreneur launching a social good startup, a professional looking to develop new skills to drive innovation within your organization, or simply wanting to learn how to better apply your talents and skills to make the world a better place, our team is here to help guide and activate your potential to Be Social Change!

Faculty in Residence: Ashoka Award-Winning Course Social Entrepreneurs, Innovators and Problem Solvers
January 13-17 at Colgate University

Taught by Anke Wessels, director of Center for Transformative Action at Cornell University

Applications are due November 22 at 4:00 p.m. APPLY HERE
This course introduces you to social entrepreneurs, innovators, and visionaries—people who are coming up with new methods to resolve pressing social problems. We contrast traditional methods of activism with a new approach that combines the pragmatic approach of social entrepreneurship with the compassionate, collaborative engagement of Transformative Action. This cutting-edge movement tends to be less ideological, less adversarial, more locally specific and more solutions-oriented than previous collective actions for change.  You will learn about social entrepreneurs and innovators through readings and case studies. In addition, you will develop a set of skills, tools and practices intended to support you in being an agent for change, no matter where you go from here. The course is not a traditional lecture course. It is highly interactive, experiential, and dynamic.  The learning process will involve self-reflection, critical analysis, research, and action.

Upon completion of the course you will be able to:
  • Describe and explain key characteristics of social entrepreneurship and how this movement compares to traditional entrepreneurship and previous collective actions for social change.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how social entrepreneurship contributes to creating an economy that is socially just, ecologically sound, and resilient. 
  • Utilize a set of skills, tools and practices that will support you in being an agent for change.
  • Evaluate and create business models for mission driven social ventures.
  • Design, and develop your own Big Idea for Social Change.