Independent Learning

Online Class in Social Impact Strategy

Learn how to design, develop, and launch social impact venture – for free.

Enroll in a free, four-week massive open online course on Social Innovation available to anyone in the world. Taught by Professor Peter Frumkin, Faculty Director of the Center for Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania, students learn how to design, develop, and launch social impact organizations of their own invention. This course will cover a select set of topics associated with social innovation and entrepreneurship, whether nonprofit or for-profit. By taking this course, you will learn how to:

  • Launch social entrepreneurship projects which have high potential of significant positive social impact;
  • Direct energy and limited resources to efficiently launching those projects with the most promise;
  • Apply tools and frameworks to test and scale your own social enterprise.

Concrete Plan

Turn your passion for changing the world into a real plan for launching a nonprofit or for-profit venture designed to achieve social impact from the start.

Online Content

Receive a world-class syllabus incorporating readings, short assignments, online discussions, and peer critique.

Case Studies

Participate in a unique learning environment where you can apply the tools you gain in lecture to real-world cases of social entrepreneurs.

Course Outline

Week 1

Learn about the key qualities of social innovation, social enterprise, and social entrepreneurs. How do social entrepreneurs approach problem solving? How might we identify social initiatives that are truly innovative in their approach to delivering on their mission, sustaining their venture, or scaling their impact? This module introduces the topic and offers examples of initiatives you might study as cases organizations throughout the course.

Week 2
Define and Design

Learn the inputs and basic blueprints of a well-articulated vision. Develop an understanding of the design process, and learn to use an empathy map and a mind map for client-oriented innovation. Learn to build a logic model, which will help you articulate your innovation’s theory of change from resources (inputs) to activities to impact. We encourage students to apply these tools immediately, to an active or idea-stage social initiative, that you are working directly on or that you admire.

Week 3
Pilot and Scale

We must test our ideas in the real world, early and often, to determine if they can truly deliver on either their social or financial mission. Learn to build and use the balanced scorecard, a key tool to assess the real-world performance of a social innovation. The scorecard will allow you to measure and articulate both the initiative’s current reach and health, as well as the work that is left to be done. An innovation achieves the intended social impact in a way that is financially supportable may be a candidate for scale. Learn to assess whether and how to approach scale for your social innovation.

Week 4
Sector Selection and Business Models

This course concludes with an exploration of the organizational forms and modes of delivering impact across the business model spectrum.