The Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SIE) Lab at the UNC School of Social Work provides support and resources for students and faculty to explore, design, and implement new ways of addressing complex social problems. The Lab is home to student-run social venture startups, an entrepreneur-in-residence, the NC Data Partnership for Social and Health Innovation, several co-working spaces, and a large meeting space.
The SIE Lab strives to approach complex problems using an interdisciplinary lens. Towards that end we actively facilitate connections between MSW students and students and professionals from public health, business, law, government, technology and other fields. Using our network of research faculty, data analysts, and subject matter experts, the Lab provides consulting services to nonprofits and socially-focused enterprises. We offer consulting related to assessment needs, evaluation, strategic planning, capacity building, and technical assistance.
Gary Nelson, the Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Chair in Public Policy and director of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the School of Social Work, leads these strategic efforts. The SIE Lab’s mission aligns with UNC’s overall vision of making innovation fundamental to all that we do, and being of the public, for the public. “Innovation is made possible when people who have been working in isolation begin to work together, spurring our systems forward for shared social benefit,” Nelson said.
Each year, the SIE Lab offers a robust field placement opportunity for two concentration year macro MSW students selected as Social Innovation Fellows. Students placed here practice new methods of creating social change, while providing innovative consulting services in the community. These students master foundational business skills that amplify their effectiveness and impact in their careers.
Under the leadership of Nelson, and the guidance of a field instructor, the SIE program manager, an entrepreneur-in-residence, as well as other faculty, business and community leaders, Fellows will cultivate skills to lead and implement innovative, sustainable, scalable social change with measurable positive social impact. Fellows will build a rich network in the innovation ecosystem on UNC’s campus, across other educational institutions, in the community, and in the business and social service sector of the broader Research Triangle.
The Lab provides an exhibit space in the Tate-Turner-Kuralt building for students, staff and faculty interested in highlighting their impact-oriented research and engaged scholarship. We host events at the School of Social Work focused on innovation and entrepreneurship in the social sector, including inter-disciplinary learning and networking events, Innovation Challenges, and an Innovation in Action speaker series.
To learn more about the Social Innovation Fellowship opportunity or about the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab, contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org.