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 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

Highlights from SICI activities to support our research community


SICI launches!

In 2016, the Social Innovation + Change Initiative was founded by Professor Julie Battilana within the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership.


Social Innovation and Change Research Seminar Series

SICI hosted a multi-disciplinary seminar series that drew on research from HKS, HBS, and HGSE, allowing researchers of social innovation and social change to present and receive feedback on their research.


Rethinking cross-sector social innovation

SICI hosted our inaugural research conference, Rethinking Cross-Sector Social Innovation, with the aim to reignite scholarly interest in the phenomenon of cross-sector work and build knowledge to inform decision making and policy.