Not dreaming alone

Not dreaming alone

Stepping out

On Saturday 18 May 2019, thirty students from fourteen countries donned their gowns and mortar boards to receive their degrees as the social innovators of tomorrow.

They were the social innovation pioneers at Cambridge Judge Business School: the first to sign up to the new MSt in Social Innovation degree programme at Cambridge Judge Business School; the first to navigate the programme’s interconnectedness of social innovation, social entrepreneurship, social intrapreneurship and social extrapreneurship [1]; and now the first alumni of the Business School’s Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation. Having spent two years expanding their world view, the first MSt in Social Innovation cohort is now stepping forward to harness their desire to change the world one socially innovative idea at a time.

“It was a really tough, intellectually demanding course,” said Nick Milner, a cohort member from the UK. “But as they say, ‘This is Cambridge, so what were you expecting?’”

Friends together

With the sun glinting off shiny yellow collars on black gowns, the graduates gathered for the obligatory group photo and congregated with their proud families for a light breakfast in the cavernous reception of the new Simon Sainsbury Centre at Cambridge Judge. Chatter and laughter bounced off the concrete walls as hot beverages were sipped and croissants were crunched, while the cohort reminisced about their special time together over the past two years and the special friendships formed.

Those friendships reflect the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation’s strategy to “engage with individuals and organisations working specifically to develop novel ‘solutions’ to deep-rooted problems of poverty and inequality in both rich and poor countries”. [2]

Originally from Brazil, Claudia Marcelloni now lives in Switzerland and works at CERN. Her friendships strengthened her understanding that differences ignite dialogue and encourage the dismantling of preconceived ideas: “It sounds so obvious, but combining the theoretical material in front of us and our different experiences of life, it was such an awakening – an academic awakening and a personal awakening. I think those moments will be forever in my memory.”

Where it all began

The Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation started life as an idea batted back and forth between friends. Years after Dr Neil Stott had studied a Masters in Community Enterprise at the Cambridge Judge Business School, one of his former lecturers, Professor Paul Tracey, asked if he could spend time researching organisational structures at the Keystone Development Trust in Norfolk, England, where Neil was the Chief Executive. As their friendship formed, so did the idea for the Centre for Social Innovation and an MSt in Social Innovation; and, so they forged an environment which would deliver a unique approach to university social innovation.

The ethos of the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation is focused around its three guiding principles: THINK = research centred on social innovation; TEACH = the MSt in Social Innovation; and DO = Cambridge Social Ventures, an incubator which works with early stage social enterprises. It is this logical process, coupled with a determination to find the space where private and public sectors intersect, that has enabled the creation of opportunities for people to better understand how to structure, develop and deliver socially innovative ideas and social enterprises.

So, as our first alumni wend their way into the world, taking their first steps to creating a better, fairer, more equitable society, Claudia has the last word: “We obviously have got a group of people that are believing they can change the world. I think it’s important for us to know that we have studied and listened and that we are not dreaming alone.”

(Left to right – Dr Neil Stott – Co-director of Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation & Course Director of the MSt in Social innovation; Laura Carnicero – Deputy Head of Educational Teaching Support; Soussan Shahriari – Programme Manager for the MSt in Social Innovation; Professor Paul Tracey – Co-director of
Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation; and, Dr Peel – our mascot)

The Social Ideas Podcast

In this bonus episode of the Social Ideas Podcast we hear from some of the graduates about the course, how they feel about graduating, and why you should consider signing up.


[1] https://socialinnovation.blog.jbs.cam.ac.uk/2015/12/04/the-rise-of-social-extraprenuership/

[2] https://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/faculty-research/centres/social-innovation/learning/

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