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Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School Creates New Institute of Social Innovation


Students To Pilot New Curriculum for Social Entrepreneurs

October 3, 2006 - PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University’s H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management has created the Institute of Social Innovation (ISI) to foster creativity and entrepreneurship in the social sector. Funded by a two-year grant from The Grable Foundation and an anonymous donor, the institute will focus on creating new courses, conducting research and establishing outreach programs aimed at promoting innovation and societal change.

The institute is being led by Denise Rousseau, the H. John Heinz II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Heinz School and the Tepper School of Business; Tim Zak, president of the Pittsburgh Social Innovation Accelerator and an adjunct professor at the Heinz and Tepper schools; and Marie Coleman, senior director of development and special projects at the Heinz School. In addition, 14 master’s degree candidates in various Heinz School programs have been selected to help develop a curriculum to train social entrepreneurs. Those students are Sarah Amador, Jessica Brazier, Samantha Bushman, Joel Campos-Alvis, Jake Collins, David Coombs, Sarah Grudevich, Sam Franklin, Jessica King, Matt Lancaster, Amy Lazarus, Andrew Place, Jennifer Schaefer and Changmei Yang.

“An entrepreneur is a packager of change,” Zak said. “Social entrepreneurs are passionate, smart and motivated — just like entrepreneurs in the for-profit sector — but they apply their energies to solving intractable social problems. We want to inspire more people to pursue those dreams.”

ISI-sponsored activities under way include developing and implementing new courses, such as “Historic Perspective of the Social Sector,” which is being offered this fall. The course gives a historic context for studying current social movements, including social innovation, entrepreneurship and enterprise. It also provides students with an understanding of how and why current policies and practices were developed.

Several research projects as well as a podcast series, called Globeshakers, are also in progress. A student-led systems project is focusing on regional support for social innovation and studying its impact on economic development, while Globeshakers highlights people who transform the world through technology, social enterprise and sustainable solutions. The podcasts feature interviews with Cheryl Dorsey, president of Echoing Green, one of the world’s leading investors and supporters of worldwide social change; Paul Farmer, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a physician with Partners in Health, an organization that works to provide healthcare to the poor; and Bill Strickland, CEO of the Bidwell Manchester Corporation youth development and adult training center, who is considered one of the world’s greatest social innovators. To listen to the podcasts, go to

The ISI will sponsor a lecture and two workshops Nov. 7-9 featuring Jerr Boschee, founder and executive director of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurs and a leader of the social entrepreneurship movement. He’ll give a lunchtime lecture for students on international trends and two workshops for nonprofit leaders and their boards to explore basic and advanced concepts in social entrepreneurship.

For more information about the ISI and social innovation at Carnegie Mellon, visit

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About the Heinz School: The Heinz School of Public Policy and Management is a vibrant center for the study of urban and social issues. Founded in 1968 at a time when the problems of society burst into public view in the form of violent urban unrest, the school set as its purpose an aggressive effort to understand the causes of critical social problems and to train men and women through master’s and doctoral programs to use new knowledge and technology to bring about positive change. The Heinz School advances the public interest through interdisciplinary research and education, and prepares graduate students to lead and manage organizations in the public, private, nonprofit and interface sectors. Master’s degrees for management include public policy, information security policy, the arts, entertainment, public management, medicine, health care policy, educational technology, information technology and information systems. Doctoral and non-degree professional-level programs are also offered.


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