Studying how to make a difference

October 14, 2013 8:45 AM

Barri Bronston

Mary Bryan applied to Tulane University three years ago because of her desire to help solve pressing social problems. Through the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching (CELT) she learned about the university’s Social Innovation/Social Entrepreneurship minor and didn’t hesitate to sign up.

Junior Tulane student Mary Bryan

Junior Mary Bryan hasn’t decided on a career path but knows she wants to make a difference. “From the classes I have taken, I have gained a new way to see the world.” (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

“It really aligned with why I came to Tulane, namely its focus on stewardship to the community and the opportunities available here to do that,” says Bryan, a junior majoring in public health. “I see the opportunities inherent in the global challenges facing us today, and I have found a community of students and leaders who share my passion.”

Tulane is in its second year of offering the minor. While housed at the School of Architecture, the program is open to all undergraduates. The curriculum teaches students how to better understand, create and sustain new models of social change.

Students take five courses — including business, design thinking and leadership courses — and they complete a final project such as creating a social enterprise, launching a movement with a social mission or conducting community-based research.

Currently, 49 students have declared the minor, and 185 students have taken at least one SISE course.

“We’re empowering the Tulane community to address pressing social issues through ethical, sustainable and scalable solutions,” says Casius Pealer, program director. “Some students come up with their own projects based on an issue they care about; others have a more general desire to have an impact and this can help them identify issues that strike them as important.” 

Last year, a team of students developed the Humanure Power Project, a company that converts human waste into electricity in rural India.

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