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The Carolina Seminar on Innovation for the Public Good (formerly the Carolina Seminar on Social Innovation) sits at the cross-section of the two core strategies of UNC’s overarching “Blueprint for Next” strategic framework: “Of the Public, for the Public” and “Innovation Made Fundamental.”

This seminar will play a catalytic role in amplifying the mission of Carolina by providing an educational pathway for our faculty and students to explore modern changemaking and practice the skills necessary to contribute toward meaningful change in the world. Participants will explore evidence and promising based creative problem-solving approaches and early, team-oriented, customer/community discovery methods to develop solutions that address pressing human concerns.


Daniel Gitterman

Duncan MacRae ’09 and Rebecca Kyle MacRae Professor and Chair of Public Policy

Melissa Carrier

Director of Social Innovation, IEED and Adjunct Professor of Practice, Department of Public Policy

Liz Chen

Design Thinking Lead, IEED and Assistant Professor, Department of Health Behavior, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health


AY 2020-2021

The Future of Social Impact and Innovation” with Sonal Shah | March 24, 2021 

Sonal Shah is a Professor at Georgetown University, and was the Founding Executive Director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation (2014-20).

Sonal served as Deputy Assistant to the President for President Obama and founded the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. She has extensive experience in the public sector including as an international economist at the Department of Treasury, setting set up the central bank in Bosnia, working post conflict reconstruction in Kosovo, and implementing poverty reduction strategies in Africa and financial crises in Asia and Latin America.

She has extensive private sector experience. At Google, Sonal led technology initiative for civic voice and investing for impact as the head of Global Development Initiatives. At Goldman Sachs, she developed the environmental strategy and ran the initiatives, including investing clean technologies at Goldman Sachs.

One of Sonal’s most proud accomplishments is working with her siblings to create a non-profit, Indicorps, to build a new generation of socially conscious global leaders. Indicorps created the service movement in India inspiring and incubating new social enterprises like Teach for India and Sarvajal.

Sonal serves on the boards of Oxfam America, the UBS Optimus Foundation, the Case Foundation Non Profit Finance Fund, Voto Latino, and The Century Foundation. She also serves as an adviser to the Democracy Fund and is coordinating the Initiative on Tech & Society at Georgetown University.

“How to think about social innovation?” with Danielle Logue | January 27, 2021 

Danielle Logue is an Associate Professor of Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management at University of Technology Sydney Business School. She completed a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Science (MSc) at Said Business School, University of Oxford, and is currently a Visiting Associate at the University of Cambridge.

This conversation considered whether social innovation is more hype than substance, looking at when and where the concept emerged, and argue that it is not new but rather a contemporary manifestation of historical tensions between ‘economy’ and ‘society. From across academic and practitioner literature, Dr. Logue looks at how social innovation often generates new networks and collaborative configurations across individuals, organizations, and sectors, and how it also requires us to be conscious of the implicit and different moralities at play when we invoke or operate under the guise of ‘social innovation’. She identifies three frameworks that highlight and open up distinct ways to think about social innovation: (1) as a form of social value creation, capture, and distribution; (2) as a polysemous concept that creates networks of meaning necessary in cross-sector collaborations; and (3) as striving for institutional change.

“Design Thinking Pedagogies: What do we know and where might we go from here?” with Danielle Lake | December 4, 2020

Dr. Danielle Lake, Associate Professor at Elon University and Director of Elon By Design.

Danielle shared her research findings on design thinking as a tool in engaged learning and social innovation. She also discussed the vision and story for the Center for Design Thinking at Elon and their approach to assessment. There was plenty of time for questions and conversations and we will share opportunities to get involved in a regional university research coalition on design thinking in higher education.


Previous Carolina Seminars

The Carolina Seminar on Social Innovation

The Carolina Seminar on Social Innovation brought together scholars and practitioners with interests in social innovation. Social innovation is defined as a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than current solutions. The value created accrues primarily to society rather than to private individuals. Ultimately, the most difficult and important problems cannot be solved without involving the nonprofit, public, and private sectors.

For more information on Carolina Seminars, see