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Social Innovation (Master of Arts)

Principles of Social Innovation
Social innovation - which has its roots in entrepreneurship and business development – involves using entrepreneurial skills to craft innovative responses to social problems. Social innovation involves recognizing opportunities, combining and mobilizing resources, triggering positive change within and across various domains and sectors, and building sustainability. This course will introduce entrepreneurial concepts that can be used to stimulate entrepreneurial thinking and behavior in individuals for the benefit of communities. Students will be exposed to the concept of social innovation and its various applications across sectors, organizational and legal forms, and geographic locations.

Foundations in Social Policy
In this course, students are provided a historical perspective on the development of social institutions, programs, and policies and how such institutions, programs and policies aim to address social problems. Students study the influences of power, oppression, diversity and culture on how various social problems are viewed, experienced, expressed and addressed. Students also learn methods of current social policy analysis and social problem evaluation.

Funding and Investing in Social Ventures
Social innovators must determine the most appropriate funding model(s) to use to achieve social impact and financial sustainability for their ventures. In this course, students will learn how to use financial modeling tools and how to apply creative approaches to sourcing funds to build and grow their social ventures. This course also informs students of the importance of impact investing by assessing the viability of early stage social ventures.

Social Innovation Practicum
The Social Innovation Practicum course is designed to provide students practical experience in identifying and addressing issues faced by social entrepreneurs in the Metropolitan Atlanta area. Social Innovation program students work in teams to analyze and suggest recommendations (whether operational, financial, or otherwise) for specific organizational challenges faced by the social entrepreneurs and their ventures. The student teams apply the theories, concepts, approaches and tools they learned during their first year in the Social Innovation program – as well as research data the teams collect -- when developing an action plan to address the social ventures’ challenges.

Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy
The Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy course provides a historical overview of the nonprofit sector and its role in addressing social problems. Students will learn tools and skills applicable to the management of nonprofit and non-governmental organizations, particularly in relation to for-profit businesses and governmental agencies. Students will also learn about the influence of philanthropy, voluntarism, advocacy and social movements on organizational policy, strategy and management.

Community and Economic Development
Community Economic Development provides a theoretical and practical overview of community development and community economic development. Through this course, students will learn the different forms of development (public, private, and cross-sector) and their benefits and trade- offs for addressing the social, economic, and socio-economic needs of communities and neighborhoods. Students will also learn about community economic development practices in various geographical contexts (urban and rural communities within domestic and global contexts).

Entrepreneurial Leadership and Ethics
Most successful entrepreneurs learn quickly the importance of influencing others to support their ideas and to help shepherd those ideas into operational ventures. In this course, students will explore the traditional and modern theories of leadership, what entrepreneurial leadership means from an ethical and social responsibility perspective, how to instill trust and commitment from others (both within and outside the venture), and the processes and outcomes of ethical decision making within entrepreneurial workspaces.

Foundations of Design Thinking
Course description In this course, students will learn the fundamental principles of design and design thinking, as well as the key concepts and approaches in historical and contemporary design practice. Students will cultivate an understanding of design thinking, methods, and processes to foster creativity and innovation. Topics to be covered in this course include visual communication, prototyping, and human-centered practices.

Creative Problem Solving and Decision Making
This course focuses on problem definition and formulation, problem solving, decision making and risk analysis.  Students learn to apply problem solving tools, materials, and methods. Basic modeling and simulation methods are also incorporated to support analysis and decision making.

Human Centered Design and Implementation
This course guides students through the systematic process of identifying systems objectives from a human perspective, how to accomplish these objectives and how to bring the solution into operation. Students utilize human centered design, along with other design techniques, to bridge the gap between problem domain and the solution domain.

Emerging Technologies
Existing technologies evolve rapidly, and new technologies are constantly emerging. This course explores current and emerging technologies, as well as broader trends.  It also incorporates the management of technology to include technology refresh, integration and phase-out along with interfaces to other emerging technologies.

Data Collection
This course prepares students to use both quantitative and qualitative research methods, and address how, when, and why different methods are deployed.  In this course, students learn about data collection methods, sampling strategies for quantitative research, effective survey design, conducting focus groups and in-depth interviews, the role of sample size, categories of quantitative variables, and assessing the reliability and validity of their measurement tools.

Data Analysis
This course provides an overview of the theoretical foundations of qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and teaches practical skills related to data management, analysis, and theory development. Students will learn to code and interpret qualitative data and to interpret statistics most commonly used in evaluation sciences.

Grant and Proposal Writing
This course covers the complete process of grant and proposal writing and the contexts and strategies of the philanthropic environment. Students will learn how to research funding opportunities, identify and plan successful projects, devise achievable goals and budgets, write proposals for public and private foundations, follow up on both successes and rejections, and incorporate digital technologies. This course satisfies an elective for the evaluation and assessment methods graduate certificate.