This spring four social entrepreneurs will be descending on the Stanford campus from as far away as Bosnia, Palestine, and Kenya and as close as San Francisco, to spend the quarter at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) engaging researchers and students across the university. These social change leaders are part of the newly launched Program on Social Entrepreneurship at CDDRL, which brings the work of practitioners to the Stanford classroom where it is rarely on display.
Social entrepreneurs use new approaches and innovative methods to challenge existing systems that keep people socially, economically, and politically marginalized. Rather than generating personal or private wealth, dividends are paid directly to society through new programs, advocacy campaigns, and more.
The first cohort of Social Entrepreneurs in Residence at Stanford (SEERS) includes leaders working on the frontlines of gender justice and social reform in societies that have experienced civil war, ethnic division, and continued economic and social injustice. Zawadi Nyong'o and Taida Horozovic are both advancing the rights of women and girls in regions affected by violent conflict. Nyong'o, a Kenyan Afro-feminist, leads several initiatives across the African continent to advance the reproductive rights of women and sexual minorities, and works to promote a more participatory role for women in peace-building efforts. After fleeing the civil war in the 1990s, Horozovic returned to her home in Bosnia-Herzegovina to launch CURE, an organization committed to ending gender violence through educational awareness, media tools, and global campaigns.
The Program looks forward to welcoming the first class of Social Entrepreneurs-in-Residence to Stanford this April where they will have the opportunity to develop their initiatives further, enrich themselves in our academic community, and bring their experiences directly inside the classroom for students to learn first-hand about the realities on the ground. Kavita Ramdas
Confronting racial and political injustice in their local communities, Ramzi Jaber and Steve Williams initiated innovative projects to give voice and resonance to these important issues. Jaber, a member of the Palestinian diaspora, returned to the West Bank to launch Visualizing Palestine, an initiative that uses visual stories and graphics to build international awareness around past and present injustices. Jaber was also the key organizer of the first TEDx conference in Ramallah in 2011, to give a global platform to Palestinian activists and change-makers. Williams, a Stanford graduate (‘92), co-founded the organization POWER, a grassroots organization that works to defend the rights of low income workers, immigrant women, and advocates for housing justice in some of San Francisco's poorer communities.
The Program on Social Entrepreneurship is led by two faculty co-directors, Kathryn Stoner, CDDRL deputy director and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute and Deborah Rhode, the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law and director of the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession at the Stanford Law School. Kavita N. Ramdas serves as the Program's executive director and brings her relevant experience as the former president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women where she worked to identify and support an international network of social entrepreneurs.
Beginning in April, the SEERS will spend eight weeks at Stanford plugging into the academic community and benefiting from a brief respite from their professional lives to reflect on their experiences and recharge their batteries. Ramdas and Stoner-Weiss will be teaching a course (IR 142) examining how social entrepreneurs contribute to shaping democracy, development, and creating more just societies.According to Ramdas, "The Program looks forward to welcoming the first class of Social Entrepreneurs-in-Residence to Stanford this April where they will have the opportunity to develop their initiatives further, enrich themselves in our academic community, and bring their experiences directly inside the classroom for students to learn first-hand about the realities on the ground."
Students enrolled in the course will work with the social entrepreneurs to develop case studies that examine, document, and share lessons learned from their work. With little original research available on social entrepreneurship, this is a rare opportunity for the Stanford community to examine new practices and approaches to promoting social and economic change, highlighting what has worked and failed to work. Guest lecturers include leaders from IDEO.org and Lulan Artisans, as well as faculty members Sarah Soule of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Stanford Professor Emeritus David Abernethy.
In addition to the course, the SEERS will be featured in events and gatherings on campus hosted by the Faculty Advisory Council whose members hail from the Haas Center for Public Service, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, the Stanford Law School, the Stanford School of Medicine, the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, and the Graduate School of Business. The Launch of the Program on Social Entrepreneurship will be hosted at CDDRL on April 5 at 5:30 pm to introduce the SEERS to the larger Stanford community and kick-off their eight-week residency. It is free and open to the general public.
The Program is planning to welcome the second class of social entrepreneurs to Stanford during the fall of the 2012-13 academic year. Focusing on using legal frameworks as a force for change, the program will solicit nominations from experts in the field who have engaged with leaders working to transform and improve legal structures that challenge prevailing inequalities or protect the rights of marginalized groups in society.
For more information on the Program on Social Entrepreneurship, the Social Entrepreneurs in Residence at Stanford, or to view the calendar of events during their stay, please visit: pse.stanford.edu.