School of Integrative Studies introduces new minor in Social Innovation

School of Integrative Studies introduces new minor in Social Innovation

Under the leadership of Dr. Gregory Unruh, this fall the minor in Social Innovation is available to all Mason undergraduate students (all majors).

The minor in Social Innovation is administered by George Mason University’s School of Integrative Studies (SIS).

Gregory Unruh is an associate professor in SIS with a research focus in environmental sustainability and climate. He is also a technical reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the group that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Currently, his research is published in the Harvard Business Review, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan Management Review, and Forbes magazine.

As a creator of the Carbon Lock-in theory and a strategic partner of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), Unruh educates students, environmentalists, and business owners about sustainable business strategies. One of his priorities is directing the minor in Social Innovation, a SIS program open as of fall 2018 to all Mason undergraduate students.

The minor addresses social, global and environmental issues through experiential learning. The 15-16 credit minor requirement includes two core courses and many elective options.  The core courses focus on social innovation in action and leadership in a changing environment.  Electives allow students to customize their minor and include courses in government and policy, the nonprofit sector, sustainability, business, human rights, and environmental justice.

Unruh describes the minor as having multidisciplinary coherence, marking it as a “framework and a process for coming up with creative solutions, not wedded into any single discipline.”  Climate changes provides a good example. “Climate scientists can tell you how much CO2 can be put into the atmosphere before [it] causes a disruption. Economists can tell you what price fossil fuels have to be at to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions,” Unruh explained. “Public policy people [are] the ones that figure out what laws need to be put in place, what kind of carbon tax we would need,” he said. Unruh argues that something like climate change cannot be solved by one discipline alone. Rather, Unruh suggests that all players should collaborate and actively converge across sectors.

Through the minor, Unruh and participants will have opportunity to gauge solutions toward issues that affect society now.