This month’s issue of Connections highlights social innovation on six Jesuit campuses, as well as the new Midwest Jesuit Collaborative on Social Innovation (J-COSI). We are proud to feature examples of ways that students, faculty and administrators are creating positive social changes in their communities through novel and creative endeavors.
By providing entrepreneurial Fordham University students with a “beyond-the-classroom” support structure for their business ventures and hands-on experience working with local businesses in Bronx, NY, the Fordham Foundry is redefining how university-based incubators can be used to foster innovation in underrepresented communities.
In January 2015, faculty from Rockhurst University’s physical therapy department invited students to a meeting to discuss a new volunteer project. Kendra Gagnon, Ph.D., PT, associate professor of physical therapy, wanted to launch a University-based chapter of an organization called GoBabyGo!
Through the innovative Beautiful Social program at Saint Joseph’s University, students enrolled in one of two courses — “Social Media and Community Engagement” or “Nonprofit Communications” — work with nonprofit and community-based organizations in semester-long, team-based new media projects with social justice themes.
After a successful inaugural year, which saw teams of Saint Louis University (SLU) medical, business, law and engineering students seek provisional patents for their designs, the second class of MEDLaunch teams are well on their way to creating the next class of biomedical innovators.
As a Center of Distinction that promotes social entrepreneurship – using business-based techniques to develop innovative solutions that fight poverty and address social and environmental issues – Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University has been delighted to see the surge in interest in “impact investing” by the Catholic Church, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and even Pope Francis. This type of investing considers both profit and social impact – reducing pollution, increasing employment, improving quality of life, and more – as measurements of success.
For wealthy Americans in need of legal help, there’s no shortage of lawyers at their disposal. And for impoverished Americans, pro bono lawyers or public defenders are often able to step in. But what about those who fall somewhere in between? An emerging trend in legal services is the “low bono” practice, in which lawyers offer reduced fees to low- and moderate-income clients. Seattle University School of Law launched an innovative program in 2013 to help prepare lawyers who can fill this need.
In June 2016, representatives of seven Jesuit institutions in the Midwest gathered at Marquette University to discuss a general framework for cooperation that is intended to improve their respective local communities through social innovation and entrepreneurship. Together, the institutions are part of the Midwest Jesuit Collaborative on Social Innovation (J-COSI).