Courses in Innovation

Listed below are current courses at Brown focused on entrepreneurship, social innovation, and action-oriented approaches to understanding and changing our world. Click here to learn about graduate programs in social entrepreneurship

The class of 2015 was be the first at Brown to have a student graduating with an independent Bachelor of Arts in Social Innovation. Now, students are able to pursue the study of social innovation through the Modes of Social Change track of the Public Policy concentration. Click here to learn more. 

2014-15 Courses

Title & description Faculty Semester
Appropriate Technology (ENGN0390A)
Our goal for this course is that you leave it with the ability to think and act rationally and concretely on issues of technology and the human condition. We will provide background on useful technologies (e.g. wind, solar, hydro), techniques to fabricate them, and an opportunity to explore the obstacles to their implementation.
Barrett Hazeltine Spring
BEO Capstone I & II: Organizational Studies Track (BEO1930A)
A two-semester Capstone for BEO Organizational Studies track seniors, open to all BEO seniors. Capstone builds upon concepts covered in BEO courses, specifically concepts from SOC 1311 and 1315. Students will synthesize knowledge at several levels: across disciplines, across theoretical understanding and practical application, and across private and public sector experiences of entrepreneurship and innovation. Students will be organized into client-mentored teams for social entrepreneurship and social innovation projects.
Mary Fennell

Fall & Spring
BEO Capstone I & II: Entrepreneurship and Technology Track (BEO1930B)
A two-semester Capstone required of BEO Tech track seniors. Student teams from Engineering, BEO and other technical and non-technical disciplines form simulated high tech start-up companies working on mentor-defined opportunities. Concepts reviewed in class include: product commercialization, intellectual property, marketing, product requirements documentation, team building, safety, environmental and legal requirements. BEO Tech track concentrators should complete ENGN 1010 prior to course. 
Steven F. Petteruti Fall & Spring
Context Research for Innovation (SOC1118)
This course brings design thinking into conversation with qualitative research methods, examining the elements of a comprehensive perspective of context. It introduces students to design research methods, ethnographic research methods, and how they work together. Students will learn how to use these methods to identify and engage in "deep hanging out" with the problem, gap or inefficiency in question. They will then move on to patient contextualized opportunity identification for meaningful innovation. By the end of the course, students will have developed a process for effective, through innovation context analysis.
Lisa DiCarlo Spring
The Entrepreneurial Process: Innovation in Practice (ENGN1010) 
Entrepreneurship is innovation in practice: transforming ideas into opportunities, and, through a deliberate process, opportunities into commercial realities. These entrepreneurial activities can take place in two contexts: the creation of new organizations; and within existing organizations. This course will present an entrepreneurial framework for these entrepreneurial processes, supported by case studies that illustrate essential elements. Successful entrepreneurs and expert practitioners will be introduced who will highlight practical approaches to entrepreneurial success.
Danny Warshay, Patrick McHugh, Jon Cohen

Fall & Spring
Focus Groups for Market and Social Research (SOC1117)
This course introduces students to a range of qualitative research methods commonly used in market and social science research. It is designed to provide students with a skill set that will allow them to conduct and design market and social research that gets below the surface of the traditional survey. Focus groups, ethnographic observation and user-centered research are widely used in product design, communications, marketing and entrepreneurship research. Students will learn and practice all of the methods introduced in the course by conducting a semester-long research project, will gain insight into which methods are most appropriate for particular research needs.
Lisa DiCarlo Fall
Global Graying: The Impact of an Aging Society on Public and Private Sectors (PPAI 1701)
This course will give students a clear understanding of the demographic reality of an aging population. Students will analyze public and private challenges and opportunities created by aging. We will think critically and creatively about aging’s complex social, political and economic issues by dissecting the different dimensions and considering their interaction. Students will consider innovative solutions to problems of aging, and learn to advocate effective policies and business opportunities to disparate players. The course has a focus on finding current and developing innovations in industries such as healthcare, finance, and retirement planning. There is a particular emphasis on social entrepreneurship in assignments to identify and develop creative solutions and plans to execute them.
Steven Gresham Fall
Investing in Social Change: The Practice of Philanthropy (SOC1870A)
Philanthropy - "giving away money" - sounds attractive and simple. But the very acts of contributing and receiving resources affect dynamics and relationships among all involved. We explore philanthropic strategies, social change, the sociological dimensions of philanthropy in historic and current practice. Students engage in teams to investigate a particular community concern, design an investment strategy, recommend the investment of grant dollars. 
Linda Cook, Kate Trimble Fall
Land Use and Built Environment: An Entrepreneurial View(ENGN 1930S)
Through the use of readings, group discussions, students presentations and guest lectures, students examine and challenge the analytical and structural frameworks which underlie and support public and private land and use the urban and suburban built environments. Students build an understanding and theory of how social, political, governmental and economic forces interact with society's present and future physical space needs.
Josef Mittlemann Fall
Law, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SOC1871O)
This seminar explores the relationship between legal institutions and macro-organizational change. The course devotes particular attention to the legal and organizational processes that shape (and are shaped by) the emergence of new technologies, new enterprises, and new industries. Although discussions may touch on technical aspects of law and/or entrepreneurship, most topics and materials focus on the general sociological processes that underlie changing organizational environments. The seminar is aimed at advanced students who have some prior familiarity with the sociology of law is helpful, but not essential. Through shared and individual readings, weekly discussions, and e-mail dialogues, the course provides an opportunity for students to refine and extend their thinking on important and controversial topics at the intersection of the contemporary organizational and socio-legal literatures. 
Mark Suchman Fall
Leading Social Ventures: Social Entrepreneurship in Action (PPAI1701Q)
Intractable social problems across the globe demand new, impactful solutions. Social entrepreneurs, driven by passion to change the world, fuse social missions and savvy business practices to create enterprises that solve these complex challenges. Leading Social Ventures is designed for students who are leading social ventures or aspire to create and lead them. "Action learning" means students will apply educational content to a specific venture in the early stage of development. Students will work on a venture that they have created or select an existing early-stage venture among provided choices.
Alan Harlam, MJ Kaplan Spring
Macro-Organizational Theory: Organizations in Social Context (SOC1315)
This course examines the growing body of theoretical and empirical research on the sociology of organizations. Lectures and discussions will cover a wide range of perspectives and draw examples from a wide range of organizational settings -- corporations, non-profits, political parties, public agencies, the military, professions, and voluntary associations. The goal is to survey the many different ways in which sociologists think about and study organizational life. 
Mary Fennell Spring
Nonprofit Organizations (PPAI1700V)
Contemporary nonprofits and their role in community building and shaping public policy are central to this course. Topics include how strong coalitions impact housing, welfare and children's policy, organizing empowered communities, the influential and engaged donor and building the value of nonprofits. Case studies will be featured and new nonprofit models will be conceptualized to strategically address critical human need.
William Allen Fall
Program Evaluation (PPAI2050)
Designed to equip graduate students with the knowledge and tools needed to become critical consumers of evaluation research and to conduct evaluations of various social programs and policies. Following an introduction to the field of program evaluation, the course will address specific topics including: logic models, process evaluations, experimental and quasi-experimental designs for outcome evaluations, and alternative data sources. Class discussions and assignments will utilize evaluation examples from a variety of substantive policy areas. Prerequisite: PPAI 2030. Open to graduate students only.
Valerie A. Cooley Fall
Social Entrepreneurship (PPAI1910)
This course introduces students to social innovation and social entrepreneurship and engages then in identifying significant issues, problems, tools, strategies and models that drive bold solutions to complex contemporary problems. Students understand the competencies that are needed to be transformative social entrepreneurs. The course emphasizes how enterprises are created and sustained. 
William Allen, Alan Harlam

Thinking, Planning, and Acting Strategically (PPAI2350)
This course will focus on the strategic trends and issues which impact the public and nonprofit sectors and the role of strategic planning and strategic thinking as fundamental tools of public and nonprofit institutions to build high performance organizations, increase the value of their programs and services and enhance problem-solving. This course has been designed to support students in acquiring a mastery of practical skills in strategic planning and strategic thinking.
MJ Kaplan Fall