Social Entrepreneurship and Other Strategies for Social Change


Increasingly, we are becoming aware of wicked and entrenched social and environmental issues, such as climate change, rising inequality, global pandemics, lack of fair and sustainable access to food etc. that require complex, cross-sector solutions to be tackled. Established institutions and strategies to address these social issues seem to be “too little, too late”. For this reason, in the past twenty years, new approaches have been tried and adopted to generate and sustain positive social change. Among these, are social entrepreneurship, social innovation and systems thinking.

This two-day online interactive course aims to introduce these three approaches and some of the tools and insights to adopt them.

On the first day, social entrepreneurship, social innovation (in the form of digital innovation, policy innovation and frugal innovation), and systems thinking will be introduced as concepts through both theoretical definitions and practical examples and related to other tools for social change such as social movements or business innovations. Then we will look at how to gather relevant knowledge about a social or environmental issue to be tackled and at the concept of Theory of Change as a way to start planning for a meaningful intervention to trigger social change.

On the second day, we will discuss the key challenges hampering the financial sustainability and effectiveness of approaches that want to generate social change, focusing on social business models as planning tools to handle and prevent at least some of them. It will end with an inspirational note through the testimonies of two social innovators/entrepreneurs on how they are generating social change.

Programme details

Friday 5 November

13:45  Registration

14:00  Introduction

(Introduction to the course, participants, learning objectives, and the programme for the two days)

14:10  Social entrepreneurship, social innovation and systems thinking:

  • Introduction of social change, how it happens and why it might not work
  • Introduction to these three approaches to generate and sustain social change
  • Discussion of practical examples of how they happen in practice

14:50  Group discussion:

  • What are the potential pros and cons of social entrepreneurship, social innovation and systems thinking?
  • What is the most impressive example of social change you are aware of?
  • How did it get triggered and sustained?

15:05  Q&A and sharing of reflections

15:15  Break

15:30  How to start an initiative that aims to generate social change:

  • The importance of gathering knowledge and how to do so
  • Developing a Theory of Change

16:15  Group exercise: Develop a mind map and theory of change:

  • Jointly pick a social or environmental issue you want to tackle. Make sure to specify a target beneficiary and context (e.g. town, country, region)
  • Develop a mind map about the causes of the issue you picked and of the key stakeholders perpetuating it using a mix of research and brainstorming
  • If you have extra time, start developing the Theory of Change of an organisation tackling that issue

16:55-17:00  Wrap up

Saturday 6 November

14:00  Group presentations on their mind maps and Theory of Change

14:30  Ensuring financial sustainability of approaches to social change

  • Common challenges faced by social entrepreneurs, social innovators and systems thinkers
  • Ways to fund social entrepreneurship, social innovation and systems change
  • The social business plan and how to develop one

15:15  Break

15:30  Malaika Case Study – whole class exercise

  • Introduction of Malaika
  • Group-based development of Malaika’s social business plan

16:00  Testimonies from 2 social entrepreneurs/innovators on how they are generating social change with time for Q&A (speakers TBC)

16:55-17:00  Wrap up and of course


Description Costs
Tuition £80.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Tanja Collavo


Tanja Collavo is a postdoctoral researcher at Saïd Business School, Oxford University. She has just completed, at the same institution, her PhD in Management Research, with a project analysing networks in the social entrepreneurship sector in England. She has authored several blogs for the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and she just published an article on the definitional debate in the social entrepreneurship sector on the Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Innovation.

IT requirements

The University of Oxford uses Microsoft Teams for our learning environment, where students and tutors will discuss and interact in real time. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

If you have not used the Microsoft Teams app before, once you click the joining link you will be invited to download it (this is free). Once you have downloaded the app, please test before the start of your course. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, you will also be offered the option of connecting using a web browser. If you connect via a web browser, Chrome is recommended.