Social Innovation

6 books to make you a better global citizen

These six books by social innovators shed light on how to make change happen Image: REUTERS/Jon Nazca

Francois Bonnici
Director, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship; Head of Foundations, World Economic Forum
Pavitra Raja
Programme and Engagement Lead, Europe and Americas - Schwab Foundation, World Economic Forum
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Social Innovation

Wondering how we’ll make the change into a low-carbon, inclusive future that is better for us all? It’s not technology, solutions or resources that we lack. Rather, we need to work out how we organize ourselves as citizens, governments and businesses to transform. Hilde Schwab, co-founder of the World Economic Forum, believes social innovators can share unique insights and demonstrate significant progress on how we approach environmental sustainability and consumption, health, education, urban development, advance human rights and equality in different contexts around the world. Here, six Schwab Foundation awardees for 2019 show why they are required reading on our social innovation bookshelf:

As One: Individual Action, Collective Power, by Mehrdad Baghai

Co-founder of non-profit High Resolves, Baghai seeks to contain the contagion of hate, a rapidly growing global pandemic by teaching teens how to be responsible, engaged citizens. For High Resolves, the solution to combating hate is education through experience; the organization proposes an award-winning system for building mastery in the core competencies of citizenship, from independent thinking and inclusive leadership to effective collaboration. Mehrdad Baghai specializes in disruptive strategy and designing organization architectures for rapid growth. He is an active investor in both the technology and private equity space, collaborating with other institutions such as the Macquarie Group, and a frequent lecturer on management theory, especially in the growth strategy domain.

Mulgan is a consummate innovator, with a career as versatile as it has been impactful. He has been able to steer and promote social innovation policies and public institutions in multiple countries (US, Australia, UK), spearhead the United Kingdom’s leading innovation foundation and influence scholarship and academic thinking in the field, while navigating government roles, as well as ones in pioneering organizations. Mulgan’s career represents the epitome of thought leadership in the field of social innovation and entrepreneurship; his book details how collective intelligence can guide corporations, governments, universities and societies to make the most of human brains and digital technologies.

Christian Seelos is a distinguished fellow and director of the Global Innovation for Impact Lab (GIIL) at the Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS). For this book, Seelos won the Terry McAdam Book Award 2017 for the most inspirational and useful new book contributing to non-profit management; the 2018 Academy of Management awarded it Best Book 2015-2017, and he was nominated for the Thinkers50 award 2017 in the category of innovation.

Peter Senge, senior lecturer at MIT, has devoted his career to helping people see the larger systems in which we operate and the ways in which we may often make things we care about worse while trying to improve them. The Fifth Discipline crystalized his work in systems thinking and institutional learning, showing they have a real role to play in addressing systemic change challenges around the world. Now in a revised edition, with new sections on systems citizens and leaders’ new work, the book has sold over 2 million copies.

Frances Westley is a renowned scholar and consultant in the areas of social innovation, sustainable development, strategic change, visionary leadership and inter-organizational collaboration. Westley is the John Wilson McConnell Chair in social innovation at the University of Waterloo, where she heads up Social Innovation Generation, a national initiative designed to build capacity for social innovation in Canada. Her book presents innovative thinking to make changes in communities, in business and in the world.

An accomplished social innovator with expertise in healthcare, labor issues and public policy, Cheryl Dorsey was named president of Echoing Green in May 2002. She is the first Echoing Green Fellow to lead this global non-profit, which has awarded more than $25 million in start-up capital to nearly 400 social innovators worldwide since 1987. Her book reaches out to the next generation of world-changers and equips them with the inspiration and qualities needed for developing meaningful careers that deliver the change that they seek.

• Do you know someone who could become the Schwab Foundation Social Innovator 2020? The nominations for the 2020 Social Innovator Awards are open, find more information here.

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