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First Social Innovation Conversation Of Fall 2020: ISIRC Recap By Taylor Scholars

First Social Innovation Conversation of Fall 2020: ISIRC Recap by Taylor Scholars

At the Taylor Center’s first Social Innovation Conversation of Fall 2020, our speakers gave a recap for individual presentations at ISIRC 2020 in the “DT & Beyond”, “Hybrid Enterprises”, and “Theoretical & Methodological Futures” conference streams.

Over thirty participants in the virtual event included Tulane faculty from schools of architecture, public health, liberal arts, science and engineering, and Taylor Center. Participants included Social Entrepreneurship professors, medical students, public health graduate students, and design faculty from external institutions and other interested scholars.

Watch a zoom recording of the 9/30 event.

The Presentations

  • Dr. Monhartova discussed ‘hybrid’ model concepts, the various opportunities this model brings both financially as well as programmatically, and applied them to the organization she co-founded.
    View Dr. Monhartova’s slides.


  • Dr. Faughnan‘s presentation shared some of her dissertation research about how a Kenyan community development organization’s staff reinvented design thinking as approaches for enhancing agency, collaboration, and participation. She aimed to show how a mainstream model of design thinking might have unexpected meaning beyond “solutionism” within the context of everyday work in frontline organizations and that those of us disseminating it might consider the value of design processes as much as design outcomes.
    View Dr. Faughnan’s slides.


  • Dr. Noel‘s design work inspired by Afro-futurism and dystopias further inspired grad students with design-led ways to envision new futures:
    View Dr. Noel’s slides.

… It was “..really cool to see children identifying complex societal issues that felt uniquely their own and come up with solutions to those issues. What if we asked everyone to design their utopia and then designed a society…”

  • Dr. Murphy and Dr. Schoop appreciated feedback from the audience on the initial visualization (map) of “the landscape of social innovation theory.” The idea was to start conversations around the distinct ways of thinking about the big tents of social innovation and knowledge production, involving different mindsets, disciplines, assumptions, and practices to make large-scale transformative change.
    View Dr. Murphy & Dr. Schoop’s slides.

After the Presentations

The presentations were followed by an engaging conversation around design’s potential disappointments, where power sits in a social innovation theory landscape, and challenges of hybrid enterprises.

Event Reflections

“Before this event, design thinking was a very abstract concept for me, and I had a difficult time conceptualizing its applicability. This event showed me how DT can be applied to real-world problems and that it is a creative, empathetic, and collaborative approach to problem-solving.”
– Andrea Smith, Taylor Center Research and Scholarship Graduate Assistant

“I learned about the theoretical landscape of social innovation and its intellectual lineage. It was helpful to me to think of social innovation within different tents of knowledge production and to consider how the applications of SI can also be different depending on which “tent” practitioners subscribe to.”
– Megan Flattley, Taylor Center Research and Scholarship Graduate Assistant

“From someone who has been involved with the Taylor Center and the SISE minor program for several years, I think the presentations showed the evolution in our thinking about social innovation as merely technical fixes within a liberal framework to incorporating a more critical analysis of power, discourse, and systems. And yet, we haven’t lost sight of the practical action piece of it: what do changemakers actually need to do the work within the systems that we’ve got? And how do we, as a center, recognize that and meet them where they are while also inspiring movement towards radical transformation of these systems?”
– Máille Faughnan, Ph.D., SISE Instructor and Research Fellow

Social Innovation Conversations are a project of the Taylor Center’s Research and Scholarship team.

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