Global Leaders Embark on Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy
February 10, 2016 |
This January, the Center for Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice enrolled 66 leaders from around the world to the Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy, an eight month intensive program designed to help anyone, anywhere make a social impact.
Our students live and work in 16 countries including Canada, China, France, India, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Sierra Leone, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and Uruguay.
Students joined the program for a variety of reasons — wanting for example to “Gain the confidence, creativity and perspective to serve the world more effectively,” “Build a new network of collaborators” and “Gain new ideas for planning the next phase of my career.”
Our students come from a wide range of interests and perspectives. Our community is composed of extraordinary leaders who want to develop an idea for a social enterprise, to grow the impact of a foundation or investment organization they work for, to scale the impact of an existing social enterprise, to learn about social impact to inform a career transition, or to improve their ability to advise boards of social enterprises or to partner with others in the field.
And while the motivation for each student is slightly different — whether it is learning tools for organizational health and enhancing social impact, learning about social impact in sectors outside of their daily experience, or participating in a community taking action on social impact — each learner in our program demonstrates commitment in learning how to convert their ideas into action.
Continuous learning opportunities, especially for busy working professionals and leaders, are expensive and fragmented. The Executive Program’s hybrid learning format allows students to take classes online while balancing their current jobs. The program has a strong emphasis on long-term applied learning and peer support.
In the first course, students are learning an overview of topics in Social Impact Strategy, to understand challenges in agreeing on and articulating organizational mission and strategy, and constructing a team that supports the vision in a way that drives change. One benefit of this course is to offer students a common vocabulary to describe and analyze social impact initiatives in any domain or sector. The program offers tools in each course to help collaboratively develop innovative services, articulate them to diverse stakeholders, and implement them in ways that reflect community values and continuous improvement.
Throughout the program, students will learn multiple human-centered methodologies to enhance social impact. These approaches include Design Thinking, taught in March during our in-person convening at the University of Pennsylvania, an online course called Community & Collaboration, which teaches an approach to developing solutions from within communities by taking an asset-based perspective, and our Marketing for Social Impact course which advocates and teaches how to integrate beneficiary priorities right into service design and delivery.
Students will also have the opportunity to choose from among four electives, to explore topics in performance measurement, organizational governance, nonprofit fundraising, and social media strategies. When the students graduate in August 2016, they will join a group of alumni who have articulated a number of benefits of the program.
Graduates of the 2015 program say that the executive program helped them convey the language and the mindset and tools of social impact in a way that is sector-inclusive. Especially for students siloed in traditional for-profit companies or charitable organizations, the articulation of common language and strategy helps them communicate with and understand the perspective of potential and actual partners in other sectors.
Our alumni often say that the Executive Program community provides access to a range of social impact experiences, intellectual and emotional support for developing new projects, and for thinking through career changes. We have seen that this diverse community inspires new ideas for unusual partners, business models, and approaches to deepen and evaluate social impact.
We are thrilled to welcome the Executive Program of Social Impact Strategy, Class of 2016!