Discussing the evening after the annual student organization TEDxTU event, which draws 1,000 people

We catalyze the Tulane community’s creation of ethical, sustainable, and scalable solutions to pressing social challenges

We help members of the Tulane community realize their inherent capacity to tackle pressing social challenges in an engaged, empathetic, creative, and collaborative manner. Our university-wide, interdisciplinary initiatives are grounded in the teaching, research, and practice of social innovation and design thinking.

Key Definitions

These core terms are the foci of our work. 

Social innovation is defined as a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals. (SSIR)

Social entrepreneurship is about innovative, market-oriented approaches underpinned by a passion for social equity and environmental sustainability. Ultimately, social entrepreneurship is aimed at transformational systems change that tackles the root causes of poverty, marginalization, environmental deterioration and accompanying loss of human dignity. The key concepts of social entrepreneurship are innovation, market orientation and systems change. (Skoll)

Design thinking at Taylor is a human-centered approach to generating social innovations. We draw from the designer’s toolkits and mindsets to address the needs of people with new, creative, collaborative solutions. Design thinking in practice also acknowledge the possibilities of technology and the requirements for real-world success. (IDEO, Stanford d.school)

Changemakers are people who use their skills, expertise, gifts, and power in a way that creates positive social change and affirms the humanity of all people. Changemakers have the freedom, confidence and societal support to address any social problem and drive change.

Social challenges are complex, pressing, and persistent problems that social innovators tackle here in New Orleans, in Louisiana, and around the world, in areas such as education, health, environmental conservation, financial exclusion, and more.  Using human centered design and social entrepreneurial/intrapreneurial mindsets, we aim to turn complex problems into challenges that we creatively and optimistically face together. 

An intrapreneur is a person within an organization who takes direct responsibility for turning a new idea into reality. Intrapreneurship is now also part of a corporate management style that integrates risk-taking and innovation approaches, as well as the reward and motivational techniques that are more traditionally thought of as being the province of entrepreneurship.(Ashoka)

Other Concepts to Consider

These terms may be used in SISE classes and you may find them in literature in the field.

Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes. (Report on Civic Responsibility and Higher Education)

Collective impact is the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually reinforcing activities for solving a specific social problem. (SSIR)

Community engagement is the collaboration between Tulane University and the larger communities we serve for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership. (Tulane)

Conscious capitalism is the alignment of all stakeholders’ interests in order to create a truly sustainable business model. (TEA)

Corporate social responsibility encompasses not only what companies do with their profits, but also how they make them. It goes beyond philanthropy and compliance and addresses how companies manage their economic, social, and environmental impacts, as well as their relationships in all key spheres of influence: the workplace, the marketplace, the supply chain, the community, and the public policy realm. (Harvard)

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. (National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking)

Service learning, is an educational experience based upon a collaborative partnership between the university and the community that enables students to apply academic knowledge and critical thinking skills to meet genuine community needs. Through reflection and assessment, students gain deeper understanding of course content and the importance of civic engagement. (CPS)

A social enterprise is an organization or venture that achieves its primary social or environmental mission using business method. The social needs addressed by social enterprises and the business models they use are as diverse as human ingenuity. (SEA)

Sustainable development. We work to promote ecologically sound, “sustainable” human development, i.e. to enhance and promote opportunities for all people to “do more and be more in ways that they have reason to value,” according to philosopher Amartya Sen and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). This aim is consistent with expanding human rights everywhere, and eradicating poverty seen as deprivations of material, political, and intangible freedoms, not just lack of income. (Sen, UNDP)

Systemic change delves behind immediate problems, involves new ways of applying resources to underlying causes, and results in tangible and enduring benefits. It occurs when an outcome or goal has been attained and the subsequent result either eliminates the cause of the problem or alters programs, policies, funding streams and/or services to reduce the impact of the problem on a long-term basis. (Skoll Foundation)