Integrating the experience of social entrepreneurs with academic research and teaching at Stanford University.
The Program on Social Entrepreneurship is a joint program of Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) and the Haas Center for Public Service. The program’s administrative functions are housed at the Haas Center and CDDRL helps to inform fellowship selection, and the program’s design and delivery.
In 2011, the Program on Social Entrepreneurship (PSE) was launched at CDDRL to provide social entrepreneurs - creative and innovative leaders, human rights defenders, and changemakers in their fields - the opportunity to spend an academic quarter in residency at Stanford University. The program also responded to the growing student interest on campus to engage with practitioners inside the classroom and with the field of social entrepreneurship more broadly.
The social entrepreneur fellows (SEERS Fellows) lead institutions that advance social, economic, and political change. SEERS Fellows hail from both the developed and developing world and are nominated through the program's Advisory Committee - a group of of 11 members from the Stanford and social entrepreneurship community - and a trusted network of organizations.
Building a tangible bridge between academia and practice, the program exposes students to new models of social change through a service-learning course and provides practitioners the opportunity to strengthen their individual and personal capacities as social-change leaders.
In September 2014, CDDRL partnered with the Haas Center for Public Service to move its core administrative functions to a more student-facing institution on campus that values engagement with the practitioner community. The program also fits in very nicely with the Haas Center’s public service pathways in social entrepreneurship and community-engaged learning.
The program is led by Faculty Director Deborah L. Rhode, the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law and director of the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession at the Stanford Law School. Rhode's prominent voice as a researcher and academic successfully led the effort to create Stanford’s Center on Ethics. Rhode is also an affiliated faculty member at CDDRL and has been involved in the program from its inception serving as a faculty primary investigator.
Kavita Ramdas, the former president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, is the founding executive director of the Program on Social Entrepreneurship, which she helped to launch at Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law in 2011. Ramdas left in 2012 to assume leadership of the Ford Foundation's India office.
The program is managed by Sarina A. Beges, a co-founder member of the Program, who serves as CDDRL's associate director working to support the center's growing practitioner-based programming, which includes the Draper Hills Summer Fellows program. Beges comes to CDDRL from the Synergos Institute in New York where she identified and supported a network of social entrepreneurs across the Arab world.
The program also benefits from the teaching expertise of Lecturer Kathleen Kelly Janus, who leads the service-learning course for the program (IR 142). Janus is an attorney who has spearheaded numerous social justice initiatives in the Bay Area.
SEERS Fellows spend the academic quarter - 10 weeks - in residence at Stanford to reflect on their own work, pursue research projects, broaden their professional networks, and co-teach a course on social entrepreneurship. The course - Social Entrepreneurship and the Advancement of Democracy, Development and Justice (IR 142) - is the foundation of the program and is offered to undergraduates and select graduate students in the form of a service-learning class where students work together with social entrepreneurs on specific projects to advance the fellows' organizational capacity.Some examples of SEERS Fellows projects include: working to help refugees realize their rights in Latin America; improving literacy for children in underprivileged communities in the U.S.; and training women to use sustainable water technologies in Africa.
SEERS Fellows use the remaining time on campus to advance their own professional objectives, to contemplate their next steps as social change leaders, and to connect to the broader Bay Area philanthropic community. SEERS Fellows leave the fellowship with tangible projects to support their professional work, and students gain the practical experience of working on projects for a non-profit organization. Many of the SEERS Fellows who are based locally in the San Francisco Bay Area continue their affiliation with Stanford after the fellowship period to deepen their engagement with Stanford faculty, student groups, and the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus.
In 2013, the program introduced an undergraduate student fellowship supported by the Haas Center for Public Service. The fellowship allows Stanford students who participated in the service-learning course to apply their classroom learning by working directly with a global or local SEERS Fellow over the summer. SEERS Fellows have also collaborated with other units on campus to provide summer fellowship placements for exceptional Stanford undergraduates.
In 2016, the program introduced four new summer fellowship opportunities to provide students the opportunity to work directly with SEERS fellows over the summer, allowing them to put their service-learning projects into practice in service with the SEERS Fellow' organization. For more information on our 2016 fellowships, please click here.
The program welcomed its first group of SEERS Fellows to Stanford in April 2012. Each class is composed of three to four talented social entrepreneurs working globally or locally to advance social change. Over the past five years, the Program has welcomed 22 fellows into the Program.
Project #1. San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center – Resource Assessment of Bay Area Child Abuse Prevention Programming (with Katie Albright):
Project #2. At the Crossroads – Develop an “I think you can” Fundraising Event (with Rob Gitin):
Project #3. At The Crossroads – Leadership Development (with Rob Gitin):
Project #4. Center for Young Women’s Development Strategic Planning Project (with Lateefah Simon):
Project #5. Food Security Storyboard Needs Assessment Project (with Kennedy Jawoko):
Project #6. Food Security Storyboard Background Research Project (with Kennedy Jawoko):
Project #1. Global Women’s Water Initiative Case Study (with Gemma Bulos):
Project #2. Global Women’s Water Initiative Impact Field Data Analysis (with Gemma Bulos):
Project #3. Global Women’s Water Initiative Crowdfunding Campaign (with Gemma Bulos):
Project #4. Accountability Counsel Case Study (with Natalie Bridgeman Fields):
Project #5. Accountability Counsel Documentary Film (with Natalie Bridgeman Fields):
Project #6. Accountability Counsel Alternative Revenue Project (with Natalie Bridgeman Fields):
Project #7. Reading Partners Research on After-School Programs (with Michael Lombardo):
At present there is no open application process to the program. The program's Advisory Committee and partner organizations help identify and invite dynamic practitioners to participate in the entrepreneur-in-residence program. Nominations are reviewed by the program team and perspective social entrepreneurs will be invited to submit a formal application and supporting materials.
Sept. 2015: Teaching Values and Purpose for Social Change
If you are interested in learning more about the Program on Social Entrepreneurship, please contact Sarina Beges at firstname.lastname@example.org.