Knowledge for Social Impact: New Undergraduate Course Announced

Katherine cropped verticalNext semester, Wharton will debut a new undergraduate social impact course taught by Katherine J. Klein, Vice Dean for Social Impact and Professor of Management.

Introducing:  Knowledge for Social Impact — Analyzing Current Issues and Approaches [MGMT 199-021], scheduled for Thursdays 3–6 p.m., during Spring 2014.

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.

Offered this spring, this new course is designed to begin to lay the foundation for the creation of new strategies –new ideas that may realize significant, sustainable, positive social impact.

In this new course, 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,” and potential site visits in Philadelphia.

To Register

This class is open by permission of the instructor. The deadline for submitting applications is extended; for best consideration submit by December 11. If you are interested in taking this course, please email Professor Klein at

Provide your name, year, major, and a brief statement of no more than 100 words describing why you are interested in taking this course, what you expect to contribute to the cohort of students taking the course, and what you hope to get out of it.

Summer Internship Funding and Fall 2014 Social Entrepreneurship Course

The Wharton Social Impact Initiative anticipates that this new course will be the first part of a three-part sequence for undergraduate students seeking a deep-dive into social impact challenges and opportunities:  this course; a social impact internship in the summer of 2014; and a follow-up course, to be offered in Fall 2014, on entrepreneurial solutions to social problems.  Students who are admitted to this course will be eligible to apply for funding for a social impact internship or research support in the summer of 2014.

About the Professor

Katherine Klein is the Vice Dean for the Wharton Social Impact Initiative (WSII).   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, diversity, team effectiveness, social networks, and Rwanda’s post-genocide recovery.