Greetings from the University at Buffalo School of Management.
Social innovation is on the rise. The concept — identifying and applying novel approaches to address challenging societal issues — is taking root all around us. Organizations in the private, public and nonprofit sectors are working together to provide social and economic value, and to help tackle some of society’s greatest challenges. Global poverty and injustice, lack of affordable housing, access to adequate mental health services, threats to our environment, services for the elderly and disabled, sustainable and just food sourcing, and economic opportunities for immigrants and refugees are some of the significant problems we face. They are also challenges that affect business, and business has a role in helping to address them.
For these reasons, social innovation is an important strategic initiative in the School of Management and at UB, as well as the focus of this issue of Buffalo Business. In our cover story, you can read about how our faculty, students and a number of our alumni are looking at social issues through a new lens. You can also read about our partnership with the School of Social Work on a social innovation conference, the Social Impact Fellows internship and a new course. Many business schools have social innovation programs, but we are one of only a few approaching it in a truly interdisciplinary fashion.
In that same vein, Community Impact demonstrates how our MBA Consulting Group is developing business solutions for area nonprofits. You can also see in Stepping Up how a recent exploratory trip to Ghana helped lay the groundwork for a study abroad experience focused on social innovation and entrepreneurial leadership. These and other social innovation programs are expanding.
Our alumni are making an impact around the world. Take Daryl Png, BS ’16, for instance, who applied his innovative thinking to the car rental industry in Singapore, where he was born and raised. Locally, Jill Jedlicka, MBA ’00, executive director at Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, tackles some of the region’s biggest freshwater challenges, such as cleaning up toxic sediment, eliminating sewage overflows, restoring critical habitat and advocating for the long-term health of the Great Lakes. And these are just two examples of how our alumni are leading social innovation to make the world a better place.
As you can see, while the school’s emphasis on social innovation is still in its early stages, our impact is already far-reaching. More important, however, is the fact that we have only just begun. Stay tuned.
All the best,