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Social Innovation at the Wond’ry


Social Innovation at the Wond’ry prepares leaders to co-create opportunities for social change in their communities using the tools of equity-centered design and systems thinking.

For us, social innovation is an inherently collaborative pursuit. It requires bringing together people and organizations of diverse backgrounds, cultures, lived experiences, and perspectives to create new products, services, business models, social movements, partnerships, collaborations, policy campaigns, and other novel ways of thinking and doing that help liberate communities from systems of injustice.


Tools for Social Innovation

Tools for Social Innovation gives Vanderbilt and the Nashville community the opportunity to explore social innovation through an introduction to the social innovation landscape from design thinking to field application. Participants will engage in a 5-week course where they will experience hands on learning and expand their social innovation network.

When it happens: Every Spring.

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Social Venture Think Tank

The Social Venture Think Tank pairs teams of Vanderbilt University students with a Nashville-based community partner. Together, using the tools of human-centered design, student teams and their partners co-create new organizational capabilities, tools, and resources that help advance meaningful change in the Nashville community.
When it happens: Every Fall.

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Map the System Competition

Map the System teaches Vanderbilt University students to use systems research to understand a specific social or environmental challenge and identify meaningful opportunities to help address it. This program is an ideal launching point for students interested in social change or social entrepreneurship. Vanderbilt University partners with the Global Map the System Competition at University of Oxford to bring this program to campus. The winner of Vanderbilt’s on-campus competition advances to the global finals.
When it happens: Every Spring, but rolling registration.

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Coffee Equity Lab 

The Coffee Equity Lab offers a variety of pathways for Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff to learn about and engage with the pressing issues shaping our world through the lens of the global coffee industry. Opportunities include, but are not limited to the Coffee Equity Design Challenge, the Grounds for Empowerment Program, Study Abroad, Continuing Education OLLI Courses, public lectures and events, sensory workshops and more. The lab carries forward Vanderbilt’s 15-year legacy of coffee research through the Institute of Coffee Studies and combines research, practice, and teaching to pursue meaningful and coordinated resolutions to equity challenges for all actors across the coffee supply chain.
When it happens: Year round opportunities.

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Climate, Health and Energy Equity Lab

The Wond’ry is home to the Climate, Health and Energy Equity Lab, co-founded and directed by Dr. Zdravka Tzankova (Vanderbilt University Climate Studies), Dr. Carol Ziegler (Vanderbilt University School of Nursing), and Dr. James Muchira (Vanderbilt University School of Nursing). The Lab, launching in Fall 2022, combines research, practice, and teaching to advance just approaches to climate mitigation and renewable transitions. Accepted students will collaborate with Dr. Tzankova and Dr. Ziegler to map corporate & institutional awareness on the equity implications of climate mitigation pledges & actions; develop conceptual and strategic approaches for using climate mitigation to alleviate specific economic, environmental and health inequities; and, design strategies that simultaneously advance climate mitigation and health, energy, environmental, and economic equity.
When it happens: Launching Fall 2022, Cohort applications now open here.

Social Enterprise Pitch Competition with the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures

The Wond’ry supports the Turner Family Center for Social Venture’s coordination of the Vanderbilt University Social Enterprise Pitch Competition. Launching in Fall 2021 to replace Vanderbilt’s participation in the HULT Competition, the Social Enterprise Pitch Competition provides Vanderbilt students the opportunity to ideate on solving a real challenge in our ever-changing global environments. The theme for the Fall 2021 Social Enterprise Pitch Competition is: Create positive impact by generating 500 jobs in Nashville (or Middle Tennessee region) by 2024. The competition is open to all Vanderbilt students. The final pitch will be presented in front of a panel of judges who are Tennessee-based leaders and entrepreneurs on Saturday, November 6, 2021. Interested students may register and learn more here.

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We build partnerships with diverse entities and individuals who are committed to affecting positive social, economic, and ecological change. Our partners include non-profits, businesses, public offices, student organizations, on-campus organizations and departments, other institutions of higher education, and community members. We extend thanks to all of our on- and off-campus partners!

Off-campus Partners: Past & Present

On-campus Partners