Leadership in the Social Sector
Course Number 1582
Associate Professor Alnoor Ebrahim
Winter; Q3Q4; 3 credits
Leadership in the social sector requires an ability to think beyond the boundaries of business, nonprofits, and government in order to solve societal problems. Unlike the business world where most stakeholders agree on the definition of success and are driven by market forces, leaders in the social sector must contend with conflicting goals and fragmented capital markets. This course examines these challenges in depth, engaging students on what it takes to create, build and scale high performing social sector organizations-be they for-profit social enterprises or nonprofit organizations.
Course Content and Organization
LSS is organized around three core themes. Students will explore how to:
a) Create a strategy that integrates business models with social change models;
b) Build performance management systems to measure and generate social returns for society;
c) Scale impact through multiple strategies including growth, collaboration, and policy influence.
In addition to these core themes, the course includes modules on capital markets and governance that examine leadership challenges from the perspective of investors, grantmakers, and board members. LSS draws on cases from diverse industries - such as health, education, environment, youth services, and poverty alleviation - as a basis for identifying general management lessons that cut across industries. A number of the cases have been successfully taught in Social Enterprise programs for executives and board members.
The course also includes a series of "Leading Edge" conversations with social sector leaders at various stages of their careers, from startup social entrepreneurs to leaders of established nonprofit organizations. These conversations offer an opportunity to discuss contemporary debates and innovations, as well as career paths and future directions.
The learning model for LSS emphasizes the use of diverse knowledge for addressing complex social problems. As a result, the course is designed to bring together students with a range of expertise and experience - from aspiring general managers, entrepreneurs, or investors with no prior experience in the social sector, to those with substantial background in fields such as education, health, global development, or public policy. No prior experience is required, only a commitment to cross-disciplinary and cross-sector learning. LSS will accept a limited number of cross-registrants in order to enrich the collective knowledge base and experience in the classroom.
This course is part of a portfolio of courses relevant to Social Enterprise. For a full listing, see the Social Enterprise Initiative website.