Empathy and the business of Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship

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Empathy — the ability to recognize and respond to the feelings of another person — is the closest connection between two human beings. Empathy also is the place to start when undertaking an innovative enterprise, says Yonah Schiller, executive director and rabbi of Tulane Hillel.

Schiller is co-teaching a course at Tulane University called Introduction to Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship with Anna Monhartova, program director of Social Innovation & Social Entrepreneurship in the Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking. About half of the students in the class are first-year students. The students are from all majors, with many majoring in business or finance.

Schiller uses the Tulane Hillel model as a case study in the class. Each year, Hillel involves 200-plus students in its leadership incubator program. These leaders develop all of Hillel’s programming, with customized mentoring provided by the organization’s eight full-time staff, in addition to a dozen interns.

“Everything we do is student-driven…We build the organization based on who they are,” Schiller said.

Read more about Schiller’s work at New Wave.