Courses and Workshops


Fellows take one seminar course and one workshop series on a weekly basis to supplement the hands-on learning they receive at their internship. These sessions are designed to provide a larger context for social change on both a theoretical and practical level.

Social Innovator's Toolbox - a seminar course - exposes Fellows to a variety of tools and methods for defining and solving complex social problems. In this interactive seminar, Fellows will actively engage with instructors, guest speakers and each other on complex social issues facing our society.

Becoming a Problem Solver - the workshop series - focuses on developing the core competencies that make up problem solvers. The team-based curriculum allows Fellows to practice working with diverse teams, including giving and receiving feedback, hone their presentation and story-telling ability, and build creativity and data-driven insight skills.



Curriculum Overview

College for Social Innovation aims to educate and inspire the next generation of problem solvers for humanity’s tough challenges. At a macro level, we hope that Social Innovation Fellows will go on to do good in the world in a way that best fits their temperament, strengths and passions. At a micro level, we hope that all of our Fellows have the knowledge, skills and network to get good jobs out of college, and succeed once hired.

We spent more than a year researching “what employers want.” We built our curriculum to teach the skills and attributes employers in all sectors are looking for, to give our alumni an advantage in any field.

We also teach about broad trends in social innovation and social change, and ask Fellows to engage in reflective practice about their own identities, passions and purpose. This helps Fellows discover or hone their plans for career and life paths that make an impact, whether big or small. 

Social Innovator's Toolbox

This course will expose Fellows to the concepts and practices associated with creating social change and solving complex social problems.  Fellows will learn a variety of tools and methods used for the development, implementation, management, and assessment of social solutions that they will be able to use over the course of their careers. 


Upon completion of the course students will be able to:

  • Identify and understand complex social, economic, and environmental issues, the context in which these issues have arisen, and the stakeholders involved;
  • Define various approaches to social change and innovation and have a toolbox of specific strategies upon which to draw;
  • Apply a “theory of change” analysis to various social change efforts, considering an organizational change and systemic change perspective. 
  • Effectively demonstrate improved competencies in communication, data analysis, team work, and innovative/creative problem-solving

In addition to readings, videos, and guest speakers, Fellows will have a variety of assignments that give them an opportunity to practice new skills and apply new concepts learned in class.  For example:

  • Applying methods such as root cause analysis and positive deviance to understand a problem and generate potential solutions
  • Using Excel for data analysis and to provide data-informed recommendations
  • Finding and navigating public databases to enhance data collection strategies and inform decision-making


Student learning will be assessed through a set of writing assignments and a group project with writing and presentation components.  As a seminar course, Fellows will experience the course as highly participatory and interactive, experiential and dynamic.  Fellows will actively engage with instructors and each other on the complex social issues facing our society using a variety of sources including texts and articles, cases, video, and guest speakers. 

Becoming a Problem Solver

The Becoming a Problem Solver course provides Fellows hands-on opportunities to improve skills in the four Power Tools and two Daily Practices outlined in our curriculum. Upon completion of the course students will be better able to:

  • Work with diverse teams, including giving and receiving feedback, displaying cultural competence and self awareness, and managing conflict;
  • Use data to drive insights, particularly in relation to human centered design and evaluating the efficacy of social sector organizations;
  • Demonstrate design thinking and the use of Human Centered Design practices to create innovative solutions to tough challenges;
  • Present with confidence, in professional and academic settings, with a focus on storytelling as a method for engaging audiences.
  • Display professionalism, including the ability to set goals, manage tasks and projects and interact in professional settings;
  • Articulate a career and life path, and have tools and techniques to move towards making goals a reality.

The course is an intensive, 12-credit class, presented in a workshop style over seventeen full days of workshops – five orientation days and Fridays weekly throughout the term. Breakfast, lunch and breaks are included on all workshop days, and team-building exercises for the cohort are interwoven throughout.

Typically, Fellows are asked to review brief readings and videos in advance of each workshop day to gain context and understanding. During class, tools are presented and practiced through a variety of hands-on formats. We also take field trips to inspiring organizations, and host guest speakers. For example:


Student learning will be assessed through demonstration of the tools and habits, including completion of reflection exercises and a closing reflection paper, a group Human Centered Design project, and delivery of a polished, public speech. Due to the participatory nature of the workshop model, attendance and in class exercises are also a significant factor in the final grade.