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The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking cultivates a diverse network of changemakers who are working and learning together to create a more just and equitable society.

“The goal is to move Tulane to the forefront of universities engaged in solving social problems, and to do so with humility, recognizing that the best ideas often arise from the collective wisdom of the community and not always from the theoretical musings of experts.”

– Phyllis M. Taylor at the Ashoka U Exchange, February 2015

Founded in 2014, the Taylor Center envisions a powerfully connected network of changemakers who support and learn from each other as they work to create lasting positive social change in their communities.

Our Values

We are guided by our values:

RESPECT: We are committed to equity and recognize humility and empathy as cornerstones of effective and ethical engagement with others

CONNECTION: We see innovation as a social act that is grounded in the relationships between people across difference.

LEARNING: We practice persistent curiosity and recognize that everyone has knowledge to gain and share.

CREATIVITY: We are committed to being open and at times uncomfortable as we seek out the unexpected in imagining a better world.

Our Work

Our programs are grounded in the teaching, research, and practice of social innovation and design thinking.

  • Taylor offers training and coaching for instructors looking to integrate social innovation approaches and human-centered design into their courses. Taylor faculty also teach courses in social innovation, design thinking, changemaking, and life design.
  • Taylor supports changemaker research and scholarship through programs and funding opportunities. Taylor also develops original research and scholarship in the field.
  • Taylor offers a variety of programs open to students, staff, faculty, and community members in social innovation, human-centered design, and changemaking. We also offer funding for undergraduate and graduate students

As an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, we espouse the value of “everyone a changemaker” and engage Tulane constituents, New Orleans residents, and our global community in the movement toward positive social and environmental change.


Through Taylor, Tulane University is recognized as a pioneer in social innovation education. This was made possible through the generosity of our visionary donors:

  • Cari and Michael J. Sacks, The Sacks Family Foundation, and the Louisiana Board of Regents for supporting the academic agenda through the Sacks Endowed Distinguished Chair in Civic Engagement and Social Entrepreneurship in 2009;
  • The NewDay Foundation, supporting the co-curricular programs through the NewDay Speaker Series and NewDay Challenge in 2009;
  • Support for the Endowed Professorships in Social Entrepreneurship, including:
    • Kylene and Bradley Beers
    • Carnegie Corporation of New York
    • Solon R. Cole, M.D.
    • Jill H. and Avram A. Glazer
    • Alyssa and Clifford Greenberg
    • Christopher M. James and The James Family Foundation in honor of Paul Tudor Jones II
    • Louisiana Board of Regents
    • Louise and Leonard Riggio and The Riggio Foundation
  • Phyllis M. Taylor and the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, launching the Tulane Grand Challenges in 2011 and the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking in 2014
  • Victor C. Alvarez and the Alvarez Educational Foundation, supporting student social ventures through establishing the Alvarez Spark Innovation Endowed Fund in 2013

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