Our mission is to promote the development of impactful, innovative solutions by supporting and advising students to become responsible agents of social change.
What We Do
A program of the Swearer Center for Public Service, the Social Innovation Initiative creates and connects students to meaningful experiences focused on action, identity, and social impact through the lenses of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Our work supports students launching and building social ventures; expands opportunities for students to explore social innovation through classes, campus activities, and careers; and sparks new relationships and ideas for social impact among students and alumni. We host several open events on campus every semester to grow and connect our community, and offer funded fellowships and internships to explore social innovation more deeply beyond Brown. All of our work is supported by a strong network of professionals and alumni changemakers who are building or contributing to social ventures around the world.
Building on Brown’s strong commitment to engaged scholarship, our programs provide real-world opportunities for students to explore how practice illuminates theory and theory informs practice. Our emphasis on personal and peer-to-peer advising supports this thoughtful and impactful approach to learning, supporting students to weave their experiences in and out of the classroom together in ways that are useful to communities.
We see our values as the very core of what makes the SII community unique. Regardless of how the world's challenges and our strategies may shift over time, we stay true to these ideas:
Expertise is a slow burn, not a match strike.
We believe that we don't have a right to disagree until we fulfill the responsibility to understand. Before identifying possible solutions, we develop a deep understanding of the issue by listening to the individuals and organizations closest to it. We see their insight as an authority - not an accessory - in identifying the areas of greatest need and potential impact. As a program of a research university with an interdisciplinary lens, we draw conscious connections between curricular learning and community knowledge in order to achieve meaningful impact in the world.
There's always room for one more at the table.
We build inclusive, enduring relationships with individuals, communities, and organizations that see the issue from all sides. All-comers are welcome. Our community grows bigger and more impactful because each member plays the role of both teacher and learner. At the same time, we value what happens beyond the bartering of one skill or tip for another; we build strong networks because they encourage more questions than answers.
Every idea needs fellow schemers and supporters.
We promote a generous, dynamic culture of idea- and resource-sharing and eagerly seek critique to push our work forward. We believe that true innovation is a team expedition, not a solo climb, and understand that impact comes from the willingness to exchange ideas, take risks, and reflect on our actions. We embrace the value of failure as a way to learn, and encourage risk-taking that is calculated and respectful in order to mitigate harm. By continually and honestly evaluating our work and ourselves, we invest in one another and discover new ways to grow.