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Thursday, January 25, 2024

Defining Social Innovation: What You Need to Know

Written by Kroc School

You may have heard the term "social innovation" before, but what exactly does it imply? And more importantly, why should you care about it? Explore social innovation, the role of social innovators, some examples, and more.

The Definition of Social Innovation

Defining social innovation can be complex. It encompasses a broad spectrum of ideas, strategies and objectives. At its core, social innovation can be described as new strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet the social needs of all kinds—from working conditions and education to business development and health—strengthening and building a better society.

The primary purpose of social innovation is to create value and improvement geared towards societal progression, rather than purely private gains. 

Interested in learning more about social innovation? Get started toward becoming a changemaker today.

What Is Social Innovation? 
KROC - Social Innovation eBook Cover MASI-1

The Role of Social Innovators

So, what is a social innovator? Simply put, they are changemakers; the individuals or groups who are dedicated to solving the world's complex and pressing issues. They identify societal needs and create revolutionary or disruptive solutions for those needs, utilizing new ideas, strategies and models that differ from traditional practices.

The work of social innovators is pivotal to societal progression. By challenging the status quo and pushing boundaries, they catalyze significant changes that result in new social behaviors, processes, policies and norms.

Social Innovation Examples 

An inspiring social innovation example is the Khan Academy. By leveraging technology, the Khan Academy introduced a completely new approach to learning by providing free online, educational materials accessible to everyone, everywhere.

King Arthur is another great example that leverages social innovation to benefit its stakeholders. In 1996, King Arthur’s owners sold 100 percent of the company to its employees, solidifying its commitment to “all stakeholders, shareholders, business partners, the community and the environment.”

Learn about more examples of social innovation.

The Potential of Social Innovation Jobs in the World

As more businesses recognize the importance of engaging in social innovation, a new job market is blossoming. Jobs in this field are extremely diverse, from program managers and community developers to communication strategists and policy advisors. Common across all roles, however, is an overriding commitment towards social betterment and innovative thinking.

At USD’s Kroc School of Peace Studies, our #1 nationally ranked Master of Arts in Social Innovation (MASI) program prepares graduates to make global impacts through careers leading entrepreneurial and social ventures, in the public and private sectors as well as intergovernmental organizations and nonprofits. 

Our graduates work within organizations focusing on social change, creating economic, social and environmental value, within corporate social responsibility departments, and local, state and national governments. Some institutions our graduates are employed at are:

  • International Rescue Committee

  • Bay Area Turning Point

  • International Training Centre

  • Jewish Family Service

  • Oliver Russel

  • Open Society Foundation

  • One Digital World

Discover Your Path to Create Positive Change | MASI Program

By defining social innovation and recognizing its transformative potential, you can become an active participant in the journey towards societal betterment. And through the MASI program, you will experience a curriculum that emphasizes experiential learning and human-centered design, and will play a key role in working towards future social innovations and creating change.

Discover your path to creating positive change with our self-discovery evaluation for social innovators. Uncover your true strengths and pursue your purpose! 

Get Started! Take the Quiz

Questions? Set up a meeting with admissions today.

Kroc School

About the Author

Kroc School

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies' mission is to equip and empower innovative changemakers to shape more peaceful and just societies.

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