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BUU44621 Designing Social Innovation

(5 ECTS Taught Module – Semester One)


Prof. Gemma Donnelly-Cox 


Office Hours: by appointment, via online meeting

Module Content

Social innovation is the creation and implementation of a novel concept, idea or organisation, that benefits society and is achieved through community, business, institutional and/or behavioural change If you are interested in thinking differently and making a difference, whether your focus is climate action, or marriage equality, you are interested in social innovation. Whether you want to change the world, or help make your neighbourhood a better place to live, your desire to make a difference needs to be matched with the knowledge and skills to develop workable solutions, to deploy them effectively and to assess their impact. This module will guide you in understanding how processes of social innovation work and how to develop yourself to play a role within them. You will learn how processes of social innovation are used to address key societal challenges.

This module introduces concepts for and approaches to social innovation and value creation, linking social innovation theory, business practices learned throughout the business degree and new strategies for defining, delivering and measuring social impact. You will learn about global and regional approaches to social innovation, how to develop a theory of change and use logic models, and how to intervene in a process of social innovation. You will learn how to engage with key individuals within the fields of social innovation and social change in Ireland and abroad, including academics, practitioners and activistsm.

Learning and Teaching Approach:

The core learning activity in the module is the application of knowledge to the practice of delivering social impact through working with existing or proposed social innovation projects and organisations via the ‘Social Innovation and Social Impact” (SISI) project.  Students will work in teams with social innovators and/or organisations to propose specific initiatives aimed at increasing the social (and/or environmental) impact of their work.  Lectures will introduce students to the core ideas and approaches underpinning social impact and social finance and students will be given the opportunity to discuss and debate different SISI strategies that might apply to their project (or not).  Workshops will be held on a bi-weekly basis and will be structured as workshop time for students to develop, present and receive/provide feedback on their evolving projects.

In addition to the project work, students will be asked to reflect on their own and other groups’ learning and engagement with the core ideas of the module and practical implications of these for the selected social innovations.  At the end of the term there will be an essay question test based on the theory and concepts introduced during the semester.

Learning Outcomes

LO1 Describe and apply the key theories / frameworks / debates in the field of social innovation and social innovation’s role in bringing about social change 

· LO2 Evaluate a social innovation in an Irish / international context with respect to the potential for sustainable impact and systemic change 

· LO3 Analyse the hybrid models of organization that are emerging as boundaries between private, public and nonprofit sectors blur, and evaluate the role of structure in enabling social innovation 

· LO4 Demonstrate the capacity to understand, assess and address social and environmental challenges locally and globally

Module Pre Requisite

BUU33590 Business in Society (JS Year) or Buu33690 Social
  Entrepreneurship (JS Year) or equivalent

This module is a pre-requisite for Delivering Social Impact (BU44622).

Recommended Texts/Key Reading

Required core course textbook: NONE

Core General Readings:   There are a range of readings drawn from relevant academic and ‘grey’ literature which will be provided to students via the Blackboard site. 

Student preparation for the module:  The main preparation for this module is the completion of the Business programme to date, coupled with the interest in working with a socially innovative organisation to maximise their social impact.  Students will be urged, to work consistently and swiftly within their groups to identify and secure access to an organisation that will be the focus for their project. 


Team Work – 10% 

Term Test (40%) – 2 hours, essay questions – will be scheduled online, for post-Christmas assessment period 

Individual Term Paper (50%) 

Full Assignment details provided in the first week of the module. 

Late Submission Policy: 

Unexcused assignments submitted after the designated submission deadline may be penalised by 10% of the grade awarded for each working day late, or part thereof. Assignments beyond 5 days late will not be accepted. In the event of a non-medical reason for non-submission of a term-assignment a student should consult with and receive prior approval from the lecturer concerned. Students unable to submit a term assignment for medical reasons must produce a medical certificate to the School of Business Studies office within three working days of the missed submission date. Certificates received after that time will not be accepted.