Faculty & Staff


10th Anniversary


Social Change Forum explores connections between community engagement and social innovation

On February 14 at Duke University, nearly 100 faculty and staff from 19 colleges and universities gathered to explore how “both sides of the house” — community engagement and social entrepreneurship — could learn from the other and thereby achieve greater community impact and deeper student learning.

Dr. David Scobey speaks at the Social Change Forum.

Dr. David Scobey speaks at the Social Change Forum.

“I see both common ground and creative tension between community engagement and social innovation — and both the commonalities and the tensions seem to me a good thing,” declared Dr. David Scobey in his plenary remarks, “Social Innovation and Community Engagement: Collaborations, Disagreements, and the Value of Both.”

The University of Michigan scholar drew on more than 20 years of higher education experience to sketch the core common values and shared history of these approaches, as well as what makes each distinct: their parallel development in different areas of the academy, their approaches to social change, and the resulting student experience and mindset.

In Scobey’s framework, students undertake community engagement as “civic apprentices,” undertaking service work that – at its core – involves recognizing and building relationships, while students operate in the social innovation mode as “creative interventionists,” quick-strike problem solvers with a focus on results. Scobey offered examples of  individuals and organizations who have made lasting social change by effectively marrying these approaches, creating imaginative solutions grounded in deep understanding of human and social context.

Duke's Eric Mlyn pointed out one difference between the two approaches: quality of snacks.

Duke’s Eric Mlyn points out one difference between the two approaches: the quality of snacks.

Along with Scobey, participants heard from Duke Engage director Dr. Eric Mlyn, who co-authored with Dr. Amanda Moore McBride a 2016 article “Social Innovation and Civic Engagement: Toward a Shared Future?” that was pre-reading for the forum. A team of Duke faculty also shared results of their research into student perspectives of “service-learning” and “social entrepreneurship.” Other presenters offered up programs as “collaborative models”:

The gathering opened with a “community expertise” exercise that let participants begin to explore their own conceptions of the goals, strengths, and challenges of both the community engagement and social innovation approaches. View the program here.

Participants discuss their own views of community engagement and social innovation.

NC Campus Compact was pleased to partner with Duke University’s Office of Civic Engagement, Office of Service-Learning, and the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative to host this special event.

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