Within the contemporary welfare state era, direct service organizations have taken on increasing responsibility in addressing the emerging social issues and challenges within our local communities. Social innovation refers to the varying ways that organizations and practitioners create this social change. This course, taught in a seminar format, introduces students to the concepts of social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and social enterprise as applied to the social services and the mission of creating change at service user, programmatic, organizational, and community levels of practice. Course content will include theoretical and conceptual literature on the emerging role played by the nonprofit and voluntary sector within the provision of contemporary social welfare, along with a typology of social change efforts undertaken by direct service organizations. Then, emphasis will be placed on the inter-organizational dynamics (such as collaborations, networks, and extent of marketization) and aspects of the intra-organizational context (such as leadership and organizational culture) that are most conducive in supporting the development and implementation of socially innovative programs and initiatives. Course material is drawn from aggregated empirical studies and case studies, but will also emphasize peer-learning and the application of course material to student contexts and levels of practice.
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