Francisco Noguera

Friday Roundup – 1/28/11: Trends to Watch in 2011

Our friends at have published a set of really interesting interviews over the last days. The result is a series titled “Trends to Look for in 2011” featuring several thought leaders and practitioners in the social enterprise space. I would encourage you to give it a careful read.

I would like to highlight the interview with Gabriel Brodbar, founder and executive director of the Reynolds Program for Social Entrepreneurship at New York University. Mr. Brodbar speaks about the “meta-profession” of social entrepreneurship, emphasizing the fact that social change comes from the intersection of many disciplines, not just business.

While this seems obvious at first, most of the formal education in our growing domain continues to be offered by business schools; in many conversations that I have with aspiring practitioners, it feels like an MBA with an emphasis on social enterprise is the entry ticket into this field. Wrong; I would bet that we will start to see more and more Universities offering structured cross-school programs like NYU’s, which expose students to the multidisciplinary complexities of social change and offer them a chance to learn while working on real, interesting problems.

A disclaimer is due: I’m a student right now, so I’m biased. I’m part of a new program that is applying a similar interdisciplinary philosophy to development education; the fact that the program is new and part of a larger effort to re-imagine development education is a big part of what led me to choose it. In school, I spend a lot of time thinking what’s missing and how my experience and that of my classmates could be even richer, more challenging and impactful. I’m also biased because I’m not a business student, and believe strongly that the new Impact Investing asset class will require more than business professionals to really become one. I would venture that it will require a new kind of professional whose fundamental skill is integrative thinking, regardless of the specific role they choose to play in the complex ecosystem that surrounds enterprise-driven social change.

I don’t have answers right now for what that new program would look like. NYU Reynolds is an excellent model to get a discussion started, as is the chapter on the role of universities in David Bornstein and Susan Davis’s Social Entrepreneurship: What Everybody Should Know. Now that I’m in the university, I’m all into discussing how that institution, which was created in and for a world so fundamentally different to ours, can adapt to a world where walls and silos have broken. If this is something that interests you, I would love to buy you a coffee.

P.S. – This interview also reminded me of an excellent reflection that Sasha Dichter posted on his blog several months back, about the complexities of industries and the diversity of roles needed for them to really flourish.

In case you missed it: NextBillion this week

Make sure you don’t miss it! Upcoming events and opportunities

NYU just announced its first Symposium on Social Innovation. Their committment to exploring these questions from an interdisciplinary perspective continues to impress me. I’m planning to be there next February 11 so let me know if you will too! Also in February, the Fuqua School of Business at Duke will host its Sustainable Business and Social Impact Conference. You can register now!

Harvard’s Social Enterprise Conference also announced its date for March 5 and 6. Put it on your calendars, as well as Yale’s Conference on Global Health and Innovation which is coming up in April.

Any other events we should be aware of? Please send them our way!