Notre Dame speaker series looks at social innovation in the next decade

Author: Carol Elliott


“Social innovation” as a concept is perhaps best understood by describing one of the first inventions: the fire department. Common enough today, its organizing principle of forming a civic association to benefit a larger social good was revolutionary when Benjamin Franklin proposed it in the morning edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1735.

Franklin – largely credited with being the first social entrepreneur – had the notion that society could be changed for the better through the formation of social networks that also served individual self-interests.

Today, practitioners of social innovation take this idea forward on a global scale, changing lives in powerful ways, greatly facilitated and expanded through the tremendous strides in technology.

Starting on Feb. 3, the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business spring lecture series, Ten Years Hence, will examine social innovation as it impacts a variety of areas of public life, including health care, education, city government and business.

The lectures take place in Mendoza’s Jordan Auditorium from 10:40 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. on Fridays throughout the spring, and are free and open to the public.

Andrew Serazin, senior program office for Global Health Discovery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, leads off the series with a discussion about new scientific approaches for maternal, neonatal and child health. Other speakers include Erin Krampetz, the co-founder and community director at Ashoka U, a community of colleges and universities; and Pete Buttigieg, the newly elected mayor of South Bend, Ind.

The Ten Years Hence Spring 2012 schedule is as follow:

·         Feb. 3: Andrew Serazin, Senior Program Officer for Global Health Discovery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “Innovation in Global Health”

·         Feb. 10: Erik Peterson, director of A.T. Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council, a strategic advisory service specifically designed for the world’s top CEOs and business-minded thought leaders, “Seven Revolutions”

·         Feb. 17: Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, “Poverty”

·         March 23: Michele Leaman, changemaker campus consortium director, “Social Innovations”

·         March 30: Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., “Innovations in City Government” 

·         April 13: Javon Bea, president and CEO of Mercy Health System, “Innovations in Health Care”

·         April 20: Fred Dust, partner at innovation and design firm IDEO, “Business and Social Innovation”

The Ten Years Hence speaker series explores issues, ideas and trends likely to affect business and society over the next decade. Students, faculty and the community use guest speaker comments as a springboard for structured speculation about emerging issues in the next ten years. 

The spring series, founded in 2005, is sponsored by the O'Brien-Smith Leadership Program made possible by a generous endowment from William H. O'Brien (ND '40) and his wife, Dee.  The program is named after their respective parents. The O’Brien-Smith Program endowment provides an opportunity for students and faculty to interact with distinguished leaders from business, government and non-profit sectors.

More Information about the Ten Years Hence series is available here or by contacting Jean Meade at 574-631-3277 or