Explore how social innovation and entrepreneurship emerge, develop and evolve drawing on the disciplines of anthropology, management, development, economics, and design.
Learn about innovative strategies addressing critical issues in education, agriculture, environment, health, and social and financial inclusion to further positive social change.
Investigate case studies and meet with social innovators, activists, and local individuals seeking systemic change.
Examine how digital tools, indigenous technologies, and frugal innovation can be used to disrupt patterns of poverty.
Discover the cultural, political, and socioeconomic elements that create the most fertile conditions for innovation and social transformation.
Critical Global Issue of Study
Development | Economy | Inequality
None, but previous college-level coursework and/or other preparation in development studies, economics, sociology, anthropology, business or other related fields is recommended.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- What social innovation is and why it is needed
- Best practices and criticisms relating to social innovation and entrepreneurship
- How and why innovation emerges in different contexts and what issues are being addressed
- Innovative tools, strategies, and models that claim to address issues relating to education, agriculture, environment, health, and social and financial inclusion
- How technology and design can further and hinder social transformation
- What design thinking is and how it might be used for systemic change
- The social impact of these organizations and who beneficiaries are
The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
- Anthropology and Social Change – syllabus
- (ANTH3500 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- This course introduces students to applied, cultural, and design anthropology through an in-depth and experience-based exploration of social change and innovation across four countries. Students will learn and draw from an interdisciplinary array of qualitative fieldwork and primary research methods including participatory involvement, observation, photography, mapping exercises, depth interviews, and note taking. The theory engaged with in this course will be applied to the social, personal, and cultural dimensions of homestays; the academic and practical experiences with social enterprises and organizations; the complexities of cross-cultural communication; and transit and travel experiences. Through the cross-cultural study of design, technology, and social innovation, this course pays special attention to the use of visual research methodologies, ethics of representation, critiques of knowledge production, and power relations. Some of the questions the course will explore include: How and why do social innovation and social enterprises actually emerge, develop, and evolve over time? What are the power dynamics between the various agents/actors within the social innovation field, and how might anthropology help to illuminate the ethical complexities therein?
- Design Thinking and Development – syllabus
- (DVST3500 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- This course introduces students to design thinking and examines its evolution within a historical and global development perspective. It provides a practical, experience-based overview and introduction to design thinking and human-centered design and how they may be applied to social innovation and entrepreneurship. Both human centered design and design thinking strategies are engaged with from a practical as well as a critical and historical perspective. Students will develop skills as ethnographers, visual thinkers, strategists, and storytellers through a hybrid of seminar discussions, site visits, public design and collaborative projects. Readings, case studies, lectures, and writing exercises will further students’ thinking about local design-thinking experiences and site visits. Students will also have the opportunity to meet individuals and visit organizations doing very inspiring work in social innovation and design in different countries. Some of the questions that will be explored include: What is development? Who does it and to what end? How can design thinking be helpful in developing public services? Is there space in design thinking for the environment and for non-humans? What does design thinking mean in diverse cultural contexts and what cultural influences has ‘design thinking’ absorbed?
- Technology, Change, and Innovation – syllabus
- (IDST3005 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- In this interdisciplinary course, students will learn about technologies (digital and non-digital) and innovations that are being developed, adapted, and used in diverse contexts to bring about social change. The course will introduce students to sources of innovation and technologies and to social entrepreneurs and organizations successfully using and disseminating these ideas and products. Students will also explore the meanings of social innovation and attempts to measure social impact. Through guest lectures and site visits, students will explore economic, social, historical, geographical, ethical, and environmental issues that have led to the creation, adoption, and diffusion of certain technologies and innovative social ideas/products/projects/models. The effects these can have on populations at the bottom of the pyramid in urban and rural settings will also be analyzed. Some of the questions that will be examined include: How does technology play a role in furthering social change and innovation? Who is creating the new technologies to change their worlds? How are these new products and solutions being developed?
- Social Entrepreneurship in Global Comparative Context – syllabus
- (MGMT3000 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- Social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and social impact have become popular buzz words, particularly in the past two decades. This course highlights innovative approaches and strategies that have evolved to address and further global social and economic development. It introduces students to critical analyses of the concept of social entrepreneurship and how it is expanding globally across sectors and organizations. Students will learn about ways the public, private, and social sectors are creating new and innovative models that provide social value and generate financial returns to build and serve new markets at the bottom of the pyramid. They will also examine how power relations are always at the core and how there are winners and losers. This is not a course on how to become a social entrepreneur or how to build a social enterprise, although some students may be so inspired as a result. The theory, promise, and practice of this emerging and dynamic movement and discipline, as well as its criticisms, will be closely examined while exploring questions such as: What is the potential of social entrepreneurship as a catalyst for social change? What are the barriers and constraints to measuring and achieving their social impact?
In the program’s four courses you will have the opportunity to explore what you are learning through assignments that include individual research essays, group case studies, social business pitches, exploratory workshops, and visual storytelling. Many of the assignments are featured in the IHP Social Innovation digital magazine called SEN MAG. Make sure to explore it!
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
United States: San Francisco, Bay Area, California
The Bay Area is home to scenic beauty, cultural attractions, diverse communities, legendary cuisine, and game-changing entrepreneurship. Here, you’ll receive orientation to the program and conduct on-site study of a variety of social entrepreneurship and design models that vary by semester but could include the Delancey Street Foundation, Imperfect Produce, Impact Hub, Google, IDEO, Old Skool Café. You’ll also meet with one of the founders of Thumbtack, Inc., who is also an IHP alum.
Starting with this hotbed of social innovation in the US will give you a solid introduction to the many challenges and facets of social entrepreneurship and will lay the foundation for comparative study in Uganda, India, and Brazil.
Social entrepreneurship and innovation have been emerging in numerous ways in Uganda, a country historically served by the international aid community and private charities, as it has become recognized that individuals with knowledge of local problems and challenges are key to effective and sustainable development. Uganda has been ranked as one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world and Ugandans are increasingly founding social ventures.
Your time in Uganda will give you the opportunity to see firsthand the kinds of challenges faced by social entrepreneurs in developing countries with a history of unrest and how social innovation can bring positive and transformational societal change.
Learn about challenges and successes with leaders at organizations such as Yunus Social Business and explore topics related to solar energy, microfinance, and mobile money. You will also have an opportunity to participate in an excursion to Mbarara in Western Uganda and visit social venture projects such as BRAC and the Millennium Village in Ruhiira.
Delhi is a sprawling metropolis home to 18 million of the 1.2 billion people that inhabit India, where almost 40 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 per day. Reports show that between four and eight million inhabitants of Delhi live in slums and lack adequate access to education, health, financial, and social services. Such conditions have led to the emergence of numerous social enterprises, developing an ecosystem that is supporting social entrepreneurs with incubators, mentoring, and financing. India has been called a laboratory for testing new ideas for social change at the bottom of the pyramid and is home to more than 350 Ashoka Fellows, who are coming up with unique models to tackle pressing problems.
In India, you will visit initiatives and meet with social entrepreneurs developing mobile apps for health, transforming waste into products, creating employment opportunities, and providing microfinance services for agriculture and food initiatives, among other things.
Brazil: São Paulo
São Paulo is an ethnically and culturally diverse cosmopolitan city of 11 million people. The city has a vibrant cultural life and outstanding music, art, architecture, and food. Here, you will find many examples of established and emerging entrepreneurship. Brazil’s unique blend of abundant natural resources, creativity, cultural openness, flexibility, and collective action contribute to the success of its social entrepreneurs. Not surprisingly, Brazil has one of the largest Ashoka programs with 200 active fellows.
The impact-investing sector in Brazil has shown significant market growth over the past ten years. The Brazilian social enterprise ecosystem also includes foundations, universities, accelerators, incubators, investment funds, researchers, government agencies, environmentalists, and corporations supporting small and growing enterprises.
In Brazil, you’ll learn how social innovation and entrepreneurship have been widely embraced and integrated in the country and have created many new models by and for people across socioeconomic backgrounds, sectors, and industries.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
The faculty/staff team shown on this page is a sample of the individuals who may lead your specific program. Faculty and coordinators are subject to change to accommodate each program’s unique schedule and locations.
Katy de la Garza, EdD, Program Director
Katy holds a doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University; a master’s in international development management from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs; and a bachelor of science from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Her intellectual interests focus on social entrepreneurship, rural education, microfinance, bilingual and intercultural education, indigenous peoples and development, teacher education, technology and innovation, social movements, and migration. Katy has worked with international development, social justice, and education quality issues in Latin America for more than 15 years. Previously, she was the strategy and innovation officer for Televisa Foundation, country director for The Nature Conservancy Costa Rica, the program manager for the US Peace Corps Rural and Community Development Program in Costa Rica, and the client services manager for the international microcredit organization Pro Mujer, providing programs for women in Mexico.
Anna Gail Caunca, MA, Program Manager
Anna Gail holds a BS in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MA in intercultural service, leadership, and management from SIT Graduate Institute. She also received her licensure in secondary education (social studies), incorporating social justice in the classroom. Anna Gail has over ten years of experience working with youth and young adults as a volunteer manager, educator, residential life director, and traveling group facilitator. Building on her graduate studies in social justice and international education, Anna Gail worked with World Learning’s Youth Leadership and Peacebuilding Programs, facilitating workshops on current issues and youth activism with the Governor’s Institutes of Vermont and traveling with and supporting students through the LondonX and Iraqi Youth Leadership Program for two years. In 2013, she was the Trustees’ Fellow for the inaugural year of the IHP: Human Rights program. From 2010 to 2015, she lived in Wellington, New Zealand, where she worked in residential life at Victoria University of Wellington, developed pre-departure orientation and training for New Zealand educators attending the Yad Vashem Teaching Seminar in Israel, and supported human rights education with the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand. She is also active in Parenting for Social Justice Chats and Mother Up! Parents Exchange for Change.
Ansley Rubinstein, MA, Launch Coordinator
Striving to always challenge her and others’ perspectives through travel, Ansley has spent the last seven years working with students both at home and abroad. She has led cultural exploration, community service, and language programs in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Costa Rica, India, Uganda, Brazil, Thailand, and the UK. While in the US, she regularly tutors students one on one. When a student herself, Ansley participated in IHP Cities of the 21st Century and studied abroad in Cairo, Egypt. Ansley also spent three years writing for the internationally published travel guide Let’s Go, traveling to Australia, Greece, Austria, and Germany to explore both cosmopolitan cities and remote islands. Most recently, Ansley has helped launch the New York Times Student Journeys, educational summer programs in which New York Times experts and high school students explore a world issue or focused topic in a specific area of the world. Ansley holds a BA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University, with an emphasis on Arabic language and literature.
Gabriel Lima, Country Coordinator, Brazil
Gabriel holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Schumacher College, UK. He is a Reos Partners associate, a member of the Art of Hosting global community, a Slow Food Brazil activist, and an Outward Bound Brazil wilderness instructor. He was guest faculty for Fundação Getúlio Vargas, a worldwide initiative that encourages business schools to integrate corporate social responsibility and sustainability into their curricula and institutional strategies, where he applied UN principles for responsible management education. Gabriel works with a variety of national and international clients, including social business, corporate, civil society and government organizations, to create learning spaces for collective awareness. He has lived and worked in South Africa, the United States, the Netherlands, and Brazil.
Abid Siraj, MA, Country Coordinator, India
Abid holds a master's degree in social work, with a specialization in reproductive and child health. He has more than 12 years of experience in public health in India. Previously, he worked for a USAID-funded project on the role of local self-government in the promotion of reproductive and child health. He also served as project coordinator of the USAID-funded Community-Based Distribution Project of Family Planning Methods. He was part of a pioneering team that implemented a flagship public health program for the government of India's National Rural Health Mission in Rajasthan. Abid was also involved with one of UNICEF's largest communication and social mobilization initiatives, the intensive immunization of pulse polio in Uttar Pradesh. He was a visiting faculty for SIT before joining SIT full-time in India in 2011.
Martha Nalubega Wandera, MA, Country Coordinator, Uganda
Martha holds an MA in peace and conflict studies and a BA in social sciences from Makerere University; a diploma in business education from Kyambogo University; and a postgraduate certificate in entrepreneurship, innovation, and social change at the UPEACE Center for Executive Education in Costa Rica. She has designed curricula, facilitated cross-cultural learning, and conducted program review and evaluation. As a Ugandan, Martha has a personal understanding of the country’s society, politics, and economy and has developed professional relationships with university professors, nongovernmental organizations, homestay families, and service providers. As a member of the Uganda Women’s Entrepreneurship Association Limited, she has strong connections with Uganda’s business sector. She has worked for SIT since 2002, serving as academic director of three programs in Uganda.
Ella Scheepers, MA, Traveling Faculty
Ella holds a master’s in business administration from the University of Cape Town, a master’s in human rights law and democratization in Africa from the University of Pretoria, and a bachelor’s from the university formerly known as Rhodes. Her academic interests focus on social innovation, social justice, human rights, social movements, feminist organizing, institutional development, and decolonizing education. Ella has worked with human rights, innovation, and social justice issues in southern Africa for more than 10 years. Previously, she was a lecturer at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business; mentor consultant for the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce; strategist partner for the Muizenberg Partnership, a community-based organization in Cape Town; and program officer at Open Society Foundation for South Africa. She also worked for various South African social justice organizations including SECTION27, the Treatment Action Campaign, and Corruption Watch.
Kasey Armstrong, MA, Trustees’ Fellow
Kasey is dedicated to living and learning in community. She holds a BS in environmental science from Suffolk University and an MA in environment and community from Antioch University Seattle’s Graduate Programs in Leadership and Change. Woven throughout her academic ventures are experiences traveling and working on small-scale organic farms throughout the US. She is passionate about using food, community, relationship, and connection to work toward ecological and human healing and systemic social change.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program field visits may vary from semester to semester.
Mbarara & Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda (1 week)
In Western Uganda, you’ll experience and learn from social innovations, enterprises, and development projects in Ugandan rural areas. Visit the Millennium Villages Project in Ruhiira to learn about top-down development interventions that offer innovative solutions, how they are implemented, and the impact they have on communities. You will also visit one of the branches of BRAC Uganda, where you will observe how one of the biggest social enterprises in the world (originally launched in Bangladesh) scales its development programs. The week will end at beautiful Lake Bunyonyi, home to almost 30 islands and very close to the border with Rwanda. Here, you will learn about local social enterprises and community organizations such as Entusi Resort while you also take a break from the rigorous program pace and academics.
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India (1 week)
Explore the city and history of Jaipur, the rural areas of Rajasthan, and social innovations that have scaled and changed south-south interventions. You will visit Jaipur Foot, the world’s largest producer of prosthetic limbs—provided to all in need, regardless of caste, religion, origin, or ethnicity—and learn about the technology, design, and model that is being adapted throughout the world. You’ll then visit Barefoot College, a rural development organization that aims to make communities self-sufficient and sustainable by connecting them to solar electrification, clean water, education, livelihood development, handicrafts, and communication. On a visit to Jaipur Rugs, you’ll learn about the process of production and design and how Jaipur Rugs incorporates underserved communities into an artisan network.
Botocatu, Brazil (2 days)
Experience sustainable living during a rural stay in Botocatu’s Demetria Neighborhood, a space that has been intentionally built by a community of innovators over the past 40 years to create a social ecosystem and inclusive economy based on ecological environmental solutions. Here, you will learn by doing, taking part in diverse activities such as biodynamic farming, organic architecture, Waldorf education, associative economy, and many other inspiring initiatives carried out by a collective of social innovators.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
You will live with a host family for between two and four weeks at each program site except the US. Homestays are the primary form of accommodation on the program; other accommodations can include guest houses, hostels, dormitories, and/or small hotels.
Homestay families provide you with the opportunity to live as an integrated member of the host communities. In sharing daily life, conversations, family stories, celebrations, and community events, you will not only learn a tremendous amount, but also develop lasting friendships.
Family structures vary in every place. For example, the host family may include a single mother of two small children or a large extended family with many people coming and going all the time. Please bear in mind that the idea of what constitutes a “home” (i.e., the physical nature of the house) may be different from what you expect. You will need to be prepared to adapt to a new life with a new diet, a new schedule, new people, and possibly new priorities and expectations.
Country coordinators in each location arrange homestay placements. In most cases, students will be placed in homestays in pairs, with placements made to best accommodate health concerns, including allergies or dietary needs. You will not receive information about homestay families until you arrive in each country.
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and Scholarships
SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Content and logistics for field programs in San Francisco, Brazil, India, and Uganda
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in the following courses:
- Anthropology and Social Change
- Design Thinking and Development
- Social Entrepreneurship
- Technology, Change, and Innovation
- Guest lectures and panel discussions
- Site visit hosts and facilitators
- Transportation to classroom spaces and daily program activities
- All educational excursions to locations, including all related travel costs
- Traveler’s health insurance throughout the entire program period
- Instructional materials
- Other direct program costs
Note: Break costs are not covered by program fees; students are responsible for this.
- Group travel during the program
- This travel includes all flights and a flight back to a city in the US at the conclusion of the program, arranged by our travel agent.
Room & Board: $4,000
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in all four countries, urban and rural stays, all excursions, and the final retreat. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- All homestays in Brazil, India, and Uganda
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
Domestic Airfare to Program Launch Site
Domestic airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $300
Books & Supplies: $150
International Phone: Each student must bring a phone with them to their program.
Break: $400 - $800
Please note: This is an estimated range based on student surveys from past semesters. Students' individual needs for their breaks will vary. For the entirety of the break period, students will be responsible for all of their expenses, including travel and room and board.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.
Relevant career paths:
- Nonprofit management
- Social enterprise
- Venture philanthropy
- International development