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GSSWGraduate School of Social Work

Interdisciplinary collaboration necessary to spark social change, McBride tells innovation summit

January 16, 2017


Members of the University of Denver community are excited. Why? Project X-ITE, a new cross-disciplinary initiative focused on the intersection of innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship. The project fosters conversations among academics, business owners, students and researchers from across Denver's thriving startup scene.

On Nov. 11, 2016, Project X-ITE hosted a Social Entrepreneurship Summit, which brought together domestic and international companies and organizations from the public, private, and social impact sectors to explore strategies, resources, and financing for innovative, socially driven businesses.

In her summit keynote address, Graduate School of Social Work Dean Amanda Moore McBride noted that social workers were the nation's original social innovators and discussed the pitfalls and potential of civic engagement and social entrepreneurship.

"As we think about what is social entrepreneurship and social innovation, it's not just about the product. It's about putting people first," said McBride, a civic and community engagement scholar.

McBride discussed the risks of entrepreneurship, including an overemphasis on ideas and initial investments, unsustainable business and funding models, and a focus on products instead of process.

It's easy to measure how many products are produced but much harder to demonstrate actual impact on people's lives, McBride said, but the impact on lives can and should be measured from the start.

"To spark social change, you have to disrupt the status quo," but higher education is slow to change, McBride added. She called on educators to embrace and model interdisciplinary team science, which will "make us better collaborators" who are best able to achieve the "social bottom line."

On Feb. 22, Project X-ITE will host a Future of the Professions Summit to explore how technology will transform the work of all professionals. Learn more about this and other events.  

Further Reading
Interested in knowing more about moving from social entrepreneur to social impact? McBride recommends reading the article "Tackling Heropreneurship" by Daniela Papi-Thornton.