Rollins Announces New Social Innovation Major

This fall, the College will launch a new major in social innovation, giving Rollins students yet another way to make a difference in the world.

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

Changemaking. It’s a calling that continues to grow in popularity across every corner of the Rollins campus.

As more and more Rollins students express a growing desire to improve the world around them, the College is set to launch a new social innovation major this fall, which will give enterprising students the interdisciplinary knowledge and skills to address societal problems in creative, systematic, and sustainable ways.

In short, more change is on the horizon, and Rollins continues to play a leading role.

“The social innovation major will appeal to highly motivated students and allow them to dive deeply into an issue they are passionate about,” says Anne Stone, associate professor of communication and director of the new social innovation program. “It builds upon the existing strengths, resources, and passion of our faculty and ties the curriculum to other offices—such as the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement and International Programs—that have earned Rollins national recognition.”

Rollins social innovation majors will develop a critical understanding of social problems that affect marginalized populations, applying interdisciplinary tools to create and evaluate solutions; gain familiarity with different pathways to social innovation, such as public policy advocacy, nonprofit leadership, and community organizing; and integrate their knowledge and experiences from inside and outside the classroom, engaging in an extensive experiential learning process.

The Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub—a creative space on campus where students, faculty, and staff can access tools and resources to address local and global social issues—is just one example of the College’s commitment to changemaking. Photo by Scott Cook. The Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub—a creative space on campus where students, faculty, and staff can access tools and resources to address local and global social issues—is just one example of the College’s commitment to changemaking. Photo by Scott Cook.

The Next Logical Step
In addition to aligning with Rollins’ mission to educate students for global citizenship and responsible leadership, the social innovation major further strengthens the College’s commitment to serving as an agent of change in the Central Florida community and beyond.

It also adds to Rollins’ changemaking legacy. In 2012, Rollins became one of the first U.S. colleges to be named a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U, a collection of 150 international colleges and universities that aims to break down barriers to institutional change and foster a campus-wide culture of social innovation. The enterprise envisions a world where “everyone is a changemaker.”

Rollins’ newest major is the result of a multi-year, collaborative process that began in 2012, was reinforced with three student surveys, and reiterated in last year’s strategic planning process on community engagement.

The social innovation major provides a complementary but distinct pathway for changemaking from Rollins’ social entrepreneurship major, which the College launched in 2013. Rollins’ social entrepreneurship program focuses on business for social change and was the first program of its kind to be accredited by AACSB International, the premier evaluator of quality business programs since 1916.

Rollins social innovation majors must complete at least one community engagement course. Here, students in Josephine Balzac’s Strategies for Changemakers course partner with Fleet Farming, an Orlando micro-farming nonprofit. Photo by Scott Cook. Rollins social innovation majors must complete at least one community engagement course. Here, students in Josephine Balzac’s Strategies for Changemakers course partner with Fleet Farming, an Orlando micro-farming nonprofit. Photo by Scott Cook.

Structure and Expectations
Students majoring in social innovation will learn human-centered design thinking, critical analysis of social problems, data collection and analysis, impact assessment, creative problem solving, public communication, organization, empathy, and emotional resilience.

During the introductory course, all majors create their own curricular plan, identifying core courses and electives that best address their substantive topic and career interests. Each plan is reviewed by the program director, then revised and approved during the junior year.

“It allows students to build their curricular path around an area of passion,” says Stone, “with the goal of gaining specific skills and knowledge that fit their interests.”

In addition to completing 10 courses from at least three disciplines, as well as an independent capstone experience and online portfolio, students must also complete at least one community engagement course and participate in three activities that involve applied and immersive learning outside Rollins. Options include global field studies and summer programs, national changemaking conferences, internships, student-faculty collaborative research, and social-innovation-related competitions, among others.

Dan Chong, associate professor of political science and faculty co-director of Rollins’ Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub, is one of 50 professors who will teach in the social innovation major. Photo by Scott Cook. Dan Chong, associate professor of political science and faculty co-director of Rollins’ Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub, is one of 50 professors who will teach in the social innovation major. Photo by Scott Cook.

Diverse Faculty
Stone says the social innovation major, which draws faculty from 15 departments, exemplifies the rigor of a Rollins liberal arts education. In addition to Stone, some of the faculty include:

  • Barry Allen, associate professor of environmental studies
  • Amy Armenia, associate professor and department chair of sociology
  • Dan Chong, associate professor of political science and faculty co-director of Rollins’ Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub
  • Nolan Kline, assistant professor of anthropology and co-coordinator of the global health minor
  • Leslie Kemp Poole, assistant professor of environmental studies
  • Steven Schoen, assistant professor of critical media and cultural studies
  • Eren Tatari, associate professor of political science and director of the Middle East and North African Studies Program

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

Social Innovation at Rollins
From popular courses to potential careers, learn more about the new Social Innovation program at Rollins.
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