Knowledge for Social Impact: Spring 2015 Undergraduate Course Announced


This spring, Katherine J. Klein, Vice Dean for Social Impact and Professor of Management, will once again offer her undergraduate, cross-disciplinary class:  Knowledge for Social Impact — Analyzing Current Issues and Approaches [MGMT 241-001, previously MGMT 199-021], on Wednesdays from 3-6 p.m.

Course Overview

Recent technological changes – Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and more – have raised awareness of the magnitude and devastating long-term effects of poverty, food insecurity, limited and unequal access to education, and other social issues.  Coupled with growing awareness of these issues is the emerging sense that traditional government programs and charities may be unable to solve these problems – at least, not alone.  What may be needed are new strategies – strategies borne of (a) a deep understanding of the issues; (b) interdisciplinary collaboration; and (c) access to business knowledge, frameworks, and resources.

This course is designed to arm you with the information, strategies, examples, and analytical mindset that will make you more rigorous, insightful, and effective in analyzing social ills and evaluating and crafting potential solutions.  Together, a cross-disciplinary group of undergraduate students, including students in Wharton, the College, and other Penn Schools, will examine the nature and extent of two pressing social problems – food insecurity and barriers to post-secondary education – and current approaches to solving these problems.

After an introduction to the social impact landscape and review of existing business and social science frameworks and tools for social impact, we will meet with researchers, business leaders, and non-profit leaders to learn what’s not working, what is working, and what might work even better.  The class will include lectures, seminar-style discussion, visitors and “live organizational cases” with for-profit and nonprofit social impact leaders and founders.

The syllabus for last year’s class – the first time the class was offered – is available here.  We will make some changes to the assignments, readings, and speakers but the syllabus from 2014 will give you a good idea of what to expect this coming semester.

To Register

This class is open by permission of the instructor. If you are interested in this class, please complete this brief survey as soon as possible – ideally by November 12, 2014.  We will make admissions decisions on a rolling basis, with preference given to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

About the Professor

Katherin Klein photo_Oct2014Katherine Klein is the Vice Dean for Wharton Social Impact Initiative.   Klein shapes WSII’s vision and strategy for social impact projects, partnerships, initiatives and faculty engagement at Wharton.  She is the Edward H. Bowman Professor of Management at Wharton. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Management, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and the Association for Psychological Science. Her research interests include leadership succession, diversity, team effectiveness, and Rwanda’s post-genocide recovery.