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Social Innovation at the Wond’ry


Want to make a difference? You’ll find friends here!

The Social Innovation Practice at the Wond’ry empowers the Vanderbilt students, faculty, staff and community partners to understand complex social and ecological problems and design meaningful opportunities to achieve lasting transformation in our communities. We do this using the tools of systems thinking and equity-centered design.


At the Wond’ry, we believe that Social Innovation is not the responsibility of any single entity or individual. It means bringing together people and organizations of diverse backgrounds to co-create new opportunities to support lasting, meaningful transformation in our communities. Social innovations may be new products, processes, programs, services, businesses, partnerships, collaborations, publications, media, and more that help positively transform the daily routines, relationships, resource access, power dynamics, and/or values that hold our greatest challenges in place.


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 & Spring

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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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HULT@Vanderbilt Competition

The Wond’ry supports the Turner Family Center for Social Venture’s annual coordination of the HULT@Vanderbilt Competition. The HULT Prize is a global case competition hosted by the Hult Foundation. The competition challenges students to develop innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. The Hult Prize Competition at Vanderbilt is a preliminary competition, with the Vanderbilt winner advancing to the regional competition.
When it happens: Fall

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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