Since the beginning of human consciousness, individuals, organizations, and communities around the world have pursued activities that aim to create social value around them. The pro-social aspect of human nature – the impulse to contribute positively to others beyond the self – has been well documented as an enduring trait across cultures and over time.

And yet still today, the body of literature available on the subject of how to effectively address the social problems that plague us today is paltry when compared to the literature and subsequent standards focused on generating commercial value. Meanwhile, societies are struggling with reforming deeply rooted systems–such as financial, educational, energy, and health care – to advance social progress.

Located at the intersection of the public, not-for-profit, for-profit, and social enterprise sectors, Harvard Kennedy School has a history of offering systematic analyses of how various sectors and actors interact to create positive social change. The Social Innovation and Change Initiative (SICI), positioned within HKS, is building on this multi-sector, systems-level approach with three specific outcomes in mind:

  • Increase the knowledge available on social innovation and change coming out of the academy
  • Support field building efforts that allow scholars to conduct high quality research in this space
  • Bridge the divides between researchers and practitioners, and in doing so improve the work of both groups

#DemocratizingWork Initiative

SICI’s Founder and Faculty Chair Julie Battilana, together with co-authors Isabelle Ferreras and Dominique Méda, wrote an op-ed on the future of work and lessons from the coronavirus pandemic. In the span of only two weeks, the piece became a manifesto signed by more than 5,000 researchers from more than 700 universities on every continent. On May 15, 2020 “Work: Democratize, Decommodify, Remediate.” was published in 41 newspapers in 36 countries around the world including Le Monde, The Boston Globe, and The Guardian. This mobilization reflects what the academic community is capable of undertaking to illuminate possible paths forward for society and work.

Click here to read the manifesto and learn more about the #DemocratizingWork initiative.