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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.


Climate Innovation Accelerator

Want to be a part of positive community change?  Sign up for our Climate Innovation Accelerator!  A 10-week, project-based, learning cohort that allows student teams to sit in the driver’s seat of consulting on climate innovation for minority-owned small businesses and nonprofits with the guidance of expert mentorship and instructor support.  Students learn actionable learning outcomes involving sustainable business, climate science, innovation, and design thinking.  Students ideate and rapid prototype solutions for a climate positive future.

When it happens: Spring 2024

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Social Changemakers

Social Changemakers 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: Spring 2024

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Social Innovation Bootcamp

Social Innovation Bootcamp gives Vanderbilt and Nashville community Partners 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 4-session, half-day, crash course where they will experience hands on learning and expand their social innovation network to become equipped with the necessary tools and skills to drive social change.

When it happens: Friday, Sept. 29. Registration is now open!

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Map the System Competition

Map the System is a global systems thinking competition that engages students in deeply understanding and working within complex social and environmental problems. Participating students meet weekly in person during the fall semester to complete a research project and prepare to present their findings to a panel of judges at the annual Vanderbilt University Map the System competition on January 24. There is a total of $5,000 in cash prizes to be distributed among the top three teams.

When it happens: Map the System registration is now open! The deadline to apply is Sunday, Sept. 10 at midnight.

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Commodore Cup

The Wond’ry team is thrilled to announce its inaugural campus-wide design challenge called Commodore Cup. The challenge is a hybrid format with optional in-person touch points along the way. Finalists will be judged November 16th for an opportunity for cash prizes.

When it happens: Tentatively Fall 2024

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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 Annual Turner Family Center for Social Ventures Summit

The 7th Annual Turner Family Center for Social Ventures Summit will be held in November of 2022 (exact dates to be announced) and feature innovators and thought leaders from across the social impact sector.  The Wond’ry Social Innovation team will be providing an undergraduate track focusing on various dimensions of social innovation.  Learn more here.

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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: Concluded Summer of 22

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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

Logos: Cooper Davidson Seal, University of Oxford, Said Business School, Nashville Upcycle, Code for Nashville, POVA, the Family Center, Nashville International Center for Empowerment, OASIS, Center for Nonprofit Management, Cooking Up, TN Local Food Summit, The Nashville Food Project

On-campus Partners

Internal Campus Partner logos