SICI Blog

A collection of reflections from the SICI community.

Being Apolitical Is an Illusion

Being Apolitical Is an Illusion

October 31, 2020

One month ago, Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, a cryptocurrency startup innovating in the finance space, published a blog post, which began: “There have been a lot of difficult events in the world this year: a global pandemic, shelter in place, social unrest, widespread protests and riots, and west coast wildfires. On top of that, … Read More

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Change That Lasts

Change That Lasts

September 30, 2020

People gather to mourn the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court in Washington, on Sept. 20. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo As someone who teaches about social innovation and social change, I am always on the lookout for exemplars that reveal both timeless and contemporary lessons. So on September 18th, when Supreme … Read More

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Meet the 2020-21 Marla and Barry Beck Visiting Social Innovators

Meet the 2020-21 Marla and Barry Beck Visiting Social Innovators

September 14, 2020

The Social Innovation and Change Initiative (SICI) is honored to announce the Marla and Barry Beck Visiting Social Innovators for the 2020-2021 academic year. Each year, SICI is privileged to host a group of accomplished practitioners from around the world who operate beyond traditional boundaries, bringing a multi-sector, global, systems perspective to their social innovation work. 

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Meet the 2020 Cheng Fellows!

Meet the 2020 Cheng Fellows!

September 1, 2020

This year, Fellows are building community wealth, creating healthier communities, transforming healthcare systems, and re-imagining education. They include healthcare intrapreneurs, educators, nonprofit leaders, social entrepreneurs, organizers, and community change-makers. And for the first time, the 2020 cohort represents students across five Harvard schools: HBS, HGSE, HKS, HSPH, and Harvard College. This cohort exemplifies the strength and promise of cross-sectoral, cross-community social problem-solving.

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“Wait and See” Mode

“Wait and See” Mode

August 31, 2020

Two weeks ago, I emailed a colleague to ask if I could introduce him to someone and he wrote back “Would love the intro. Off this week, but back next week, and raring to go for the fall!” Raring to go for fall?! I had to blink back shock for a full minute before I … Read More

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Transparent Gatekeeping

Transparent Gatekeeping

July 31, 2020

As many of you know, one of SICI’s most cherished undertakings is the New World Social Innovation Fellows Program, an accelerator for aspiring social changemaker students at Harvard. Applications for our sixth cohort of Fellows closed on July 12th and are currently moving through a rigorous series of selection proceedings. Thousands of institutions in the … Read More

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Getting Beyond Incrementalism

Getting Beyond Incrementalism

June 30, 2020

As part of the Social Innovation + Change Initiative, I am frequently asked how I can tell if a social impact effort is “truly innovative” (interestingly, far fewer people ask the same question about “true social change”). My response, though perhaps disappointing for some, is that most of the ideas we study and support at … Read More

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New Beginnings

New Beginnings

May 31, 2020

For those who work in higher education, it is almost impossible to be on campus in May without thinking about graduation. Soon the people we’ve come to know, learn from, and care for will move on to other places and roles. While no one was sure how the virtual version would go this year, in … Read More

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Charting a Sustainable Future

Charting a Sustainable Future

April 30, 2020

Earlier this month, April 22nd, marked 50 years since the very first Earth Day, a day when 20 million Americans — 10% of the U.S. population at the time — mobilized to raise awareness about mankind’s ongoing environmental destruction and called for a new direction with respect to global environmental policy. For many of us, … Read More

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COVID-19 Update From SICI

COVID-19 Update From SICI

March 31, 2020

I am sitting in front of my living room window as I write, looking onto our neighborhood in Cambridge, astounded by the change that has transpired on Harvard’s campus, and in our world, in six weeks time. It is my deepest hope that, as a part of our cherished community, you are reading this in … Read More

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Proximate Work Is Effective Work

Proximate Work Is Effective Work

February 28, 2020

This week I had the profound privilege of sitting with Ms. Tarana Burke, the original originator of the #metoo movement, as part of a day-long series celebrating her accomplishments and contributions as well as her receipt of the Center for Public Leadership’s Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award at Harvard Kennedy School. [If you have 6 minutes … Read More

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Navigating Through Complex Problems

Navigating Through Complex Problems

January 31, 2020

While the start of the academic calendar for most students begins in late summer, the start of the year for Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative (ALI) begins in January. For those who don’t know yet, ALI is worth checking out. It is a University level, year-long, third stage, higher education program designed to organize and train … Read More

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Committing Fully

Committing Fully

December 31, 2019

In San Antonio, on the day before his death, President John F. Kennedy described in detail a boyhood story by Irish author Frank O’Connor. Adventuring through the countryside, O’Connor and his friends established a practice of tossing their caps over high walls—walls oftentimes higher than ones they had scaled in the past. They knew they … Read More

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Small Acts of Change

Small Acts of Change

November 30, 2019

In his 1984 paper, “Small Wins: Redefining the Scale of Social Problems,” organizational theorist Karl Weick observed that social problems are often so complex and grand in scope and scale that simply thinking about them can overwhelm and paralyze even the most dedicated social changemakers. His proposed strategy for handling this psychological obstacle is to … Read More

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Codifying SICI’s 3P Pedagogy

Codifying SICI’s 3P Pedagogy

October 31, 2019

Three years into the Social Innovation + Change Initiative and, like the early-stage social innovators we support, our team has grown, our activities have found a certain rhythm, and we are seeing signs of positive impact. A new, more focused institutional phase is emerging now and we are currently undertaking a project to codify our … Read More

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Who Is a Social Innovator?

Who Is a Social Innovator?

September 30, 2019

Hello from the Social Innovation and Change Initiative (SICI) offices at Harvard Kennedy School! This note marks the first of what I expect will be monthly roundups about our work and our growing community. Our hope is that these recaps encourage you to stay in touch with us and connect with each other. For those … Read More

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2018 in Review: What makes an effective social innovator?

2018 in Review: What makes an effective social innovator?

January 16, 2019

Whether or not 2018 was the worst year in human history or the best, the Social Innovation and Change Initiative (SICI) team is lucky to have spent the year teaching, learning, and growing with Harvard’s community of social innovators. This community represents the students from all Harvard schools who are making progress against pressing social … Read More

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Reblog: Meghan McCormick – Harvard innovation labs

Reblog: Meghan McCormick – Harvard innovation labs

October 29, 2018

Meghan McCormick, a 2018 Cheng Fellow, is the Founder of OZÉ, a platform that empowers small-business owners to make data-driven decisions. Meghan and the OZE team is passionate about enabling small businesses and local ownership to grow with technology, particularly in emerging markets. In April, OZÉ won the $75,000 Grand Prize in the Social Impact & Cultural … Read More

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Meet the 2018 Adrian Cheng Fellows

Meet the 2018 Adrian Cheng Fellows

September 10, 2018

The Social Innovation and Change Initiative is pleased to announce the members of the 2018 Cheng Fellow cohort. The Cheng Fellowship is a rigorous program that selects and supports students who are actively advancing social innovation projects while in school. The co-curricular experience works to bridge research, theory, and social change frameworks with experiential insights … Read More

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Anika Manzoor: Making Activism Accessible in the United States

Anika Manzoor: Making Activism Accessible in the United States

September 4, 2018

Anika Manzoor (MPP ’18, Cheng Fellow) was 12 when she “accidentally” co-founded an advocacy campaign. It happened in a small cafe owned by her friend’s mother. She had been invited by this friend to learn about the inaccessibility of education for girls in developing countries, especially in Bangladesh — a country Manzoor’s family once called … Read More

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Micaela Connery: Building Inclusive Housing in the Bay Area

Micaela Connery: Building Inclusive Housing in the Bay Area

August 28, 2018

Housing crises in urban areas across the United States threaten to prevent many people from accessing shelter, community, and services. This trend is even worse for the millions of people with disabilities, in the US. Micaela Connery (MPP ’16, Cheng Fellow) is seeking to revolutionize affordable urban housing with The Kelsey, a replicable model for … Read More

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Meet the SICI Staff

Meet the SICI Staff

August 23, 2018

The Social Innovation and Change Initiative. Behind the name is a movement to advance the practice of innovation with a social intent within and beyond Harvard. We illuminate the different pathways and platforms that individuals can take to bring positive social change. For us, this means developing cutting-edge research through our faculty, connecting cross-sector communities, … Read More

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Ricky Sharma: Promoting Girls Health in India

Ricky Sharma: Promoting Girls Health in India

August 21, 2018

Ensuring a healthy transition from childhood to adulthood for the 120 million adolescent girls living in India today is a formidable challenge. Studies show that at least half of the girls in India are anemic, twice the rate of their male counterparts.

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Sibella Matthews: Ending Girls Incarceration in Australia

Sibella Matthews: Ending Girls Incarceration in Australia

August 15, 2018

Later this year, twenty-four individuals representing constituencies from across Australia will come together for the inaugural convention of the Girls Justice Reform Community. The coalition, a brainchild of Sibella Matthews (MPP ’18, Cheng Fellow), will meet quarterly with one objective: to end the incarceration of girls in Australia by 2025.

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Introducing the Fellow Spotlight Series

Introducing the Fellow Spotlight Series

August 13, 2018

A Juvenile Justice Center in Australia. A home in Uganda. A school in India. An inclusive housing community in the Bay Area. These are just a few of the diverse settings where our Adrian Cheng Fellows are seeding and leading initiatives for impact. The Cheng Fellowship, an integral part of our work at the Social … Read More

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