Máille Faughnan has been a social innovation educator and scholar at Tulane University for nearly 10 years, where she also earned a Ph.D. in International Development. Starting in July, Dr. Faughnan will serve as a Professor of Practice and Associate Director for Social Innovation at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation & Design Thinking.
As a Research Fellow with the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking and Instructor in the Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship program, Dr. Faughnan explores the potential of social changemaking methodologies — including design thinking, systems thinking, and multiculturalism — with many campus and community audiences. Her most recent work with the Taylor Center has involved thought leadership that positions the center’s work on cultivating changemakers within the evolving fields of social innovation education and community engagement. She played a key role in the Taylor Center’s design thinking outreach as the lead of The Fast 48, a weekend bootcamp that teaches human-centered design through community partnership, along with similar unit-focused workshops. In the Tulane University School of Architecture, Máille has taught many core courses for the Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (SISE) program, including Introduction to Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, the SISE Senior Seminar, and Design Thinking for Social Impact. Dr. Faughnan is currently developing a new social innovation course at the graduate level for the SISE program.
Máille’s research is action-oriented, featuring ethnographic, critical, and participatory approaches that integrate inquiry with capacity-building and community engagement. Her field research has tested social innovation tools in Louisiana, Central America and East Africa across diverse arenas such as youth development, women’s entrepreneurship, placemaking, reproductive health and university-community engagement. Her dissertation documented design thinking uptake from training in a Kenyan community development organization. Through her research, Dr. Faughnan found that participants adopted design approaches to express their agency within the top-down decision-making cultures of the development sector. The insights that changemakers in traditional institutions sought design as a tool for empowerment led her to investigate how transformative and relational learning practices like liberating structures, critical service-learning, and co-writing can catalyze social changemakers to address wicked problems, leading to publications for PLoS One, the Social Enterprise Journal, the Pivot Pluriversal Design Conference, and the Social Innovations Journal. Her current research maps social innovation schools of thought to help changemakers better navigate the broader ecosystem of social change theory and practice.
Máille is a passionate supporter of learning communities locally and globally, as an organizer of the Tulane University ALAAMEA White Anti-Racist Learning Community and a contributing member of the Action Research Plus Foundation. She recently joined the 2023 LSU Master Gardener course and is looking forward to integrating ecological restoration into her social change practice.