Conference Overview

Every two years, Stanford Social Innovation Review—the leading global publication on cutting-edge theory and practice for the social sector—brings together senior leaders from nonprofit organizations and foundations, social entrepreneurs and philanthropists, leading academics and researchers, executives of for-profit CSR-centric businesses, and government policymakers from around the world for two days, to discuss, debate and develop solutions that address the most pressing global challenges. On May 21-22, 2018, attendees at Frontiers of Social Innovation explored some of the most important emerging forces impacting the world and society, including:

· AI's Human Impact 

· Modern Slavery and Global Income Inequality 

· Social Innovation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution 

· Democracy and the Growth of Social Movements 

· Systems Change and Impact 

· Inclusion and the Rise of Societal Equity

Sessions

Are we the bots we follow? Digital Technology and Democracy

Rob Reich, Arisha Michelle Hatch, Kelly Born

Technological innovation in the form of big data analytics and psychometric profiling, and artificial intelligence and affective computing, coupled with the rapid growth of social networking platforms and the internet itself, have created unintended consequences, giving rise to an array of threats to democratic societies. At the same time, technology is changing the way people think about—and participate in—democratic society. The internet and mobile phones are altering how we engage with one another, and changing the way people find and share information, potentially redefining what it means to be citizens in a democracy. Will the internet kill Democracy? Or will technology improve democratic society? Rob Reich, noted author, professor of political science, and co-director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, as director of the Center for Ethics in Society, at Stanford University, leads this discussion with Kelly Born, Program Officer for the Madison Initiative at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Arisha Michelle Hatch, managing director of Campaigns at Color of Change, on the rapidly evolving relationship between ethics, technology and democracy.

Keynote: I am not a robot: The Troublemaker Manifesto

Ahmen

Today, more than ever, leaders and organizations are expected to take bold stands on the greatest issues facing society. Brace yourself for a tour de force blueprint for changemaking, shared through the lens of the unlikely journey of the son of immigrants who went from poor to rising corporate star to shaking it all up and going into the worlds of nonprofit and hip-hop music. In this plenary session, Mohan Sivaloganathan (aka, Ahmen) – who, in his day-to-day role, is the Northeast Executive Director of The Mission Continues, one of the United States’ most effective veterans service organizations – shares his unifying message on ways to stir things up while catalyzing voices and positive action among everyday people.

Where the Fourth Industrial Revolution Meets Social Entrepreneurship

Katherine Milligan, Kristin Groos Richmond, Keller Rinaudo, David Risher

There is a growing emphasis on demonstrating impact in the social business sphere. Measurement and transparency play a key role in establishing accountability to stakeholders, including program beneficiaries, and can also foster social innovation. Public sharing of evidence on effective strategies and best practices can build a creative shared learning environment. Indicators of social performance integrated into management dashboards can guide companies internally toward greater social impact. Corporations, including those in the pharmaceutical industry, have an important role to play in efforts to address social goals. However, they often fail to measure and report on their social programs, limiting their potential contribution to social innovation. This panel takes an in-depth look at measurement and transparency in pharmaceutical industry-led social programs from a public health perspective. The panel will be moderated by Veronika Wirtz, associate professor in the Department of Global Health at the Boston University School of Public Health. Wirtz will be joined by Michael Fuerst, senior manager of corporate responsibility strategy and innovation at Novartis International AG, Hannah Kettler, senior program officer of Life Sciences Partnerships at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rekha Ramesh, head of global policy at Gilead Sciences Inc., and Peter C. Rockers, assistant professor in the Department of Global Health at the Boston University School of Public Health, will give opening remarks and introduce the panel.

Measurement and Transparency in the Social Business Sphere

Michael Fuerst, Hannah Kettler, Rekha Ramesh, Peter Rockers, Veronika Wirtz

There is a growing emphasis on demonstrating impact in the social business sphere. Measurement and transparency play a key role in establishing accountability to stakeholders, including program beneficiaries, and can also foster social innovation. Public sharing of evidence on effective strategies and best practices can build a creative shared learning environment. Indicators of social performance integrated into management dashboards can guide companies internally toward greater social impact. Corporations, including those in the pharmaceutical industry, have an important role to play in efforts to address social goals. However, they often fail to measure and report on their social programs, limiting their potential contribution to social innovation. This panel takes an in-depth look at measurement and transparency in pharmaceutical industry-led social programs from a public health perspective. The panel will be moderated by Veronika Wirtz, associate professor in the Department of Global Health at the Boston University School of Public Health. Wirtz will be joined by Michael Fuerst, senior manager of corporate responsibility strategy and innovation at Novartis International AG, Hannah Kettler, senior program officer of Life Sciences Partnerships at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rekha Ramesh, head of global policy at Gilead Sciences Inc., and Peter C. Rockers, assistant professor in the Department of Global Health at the Boston University School of Public Health, will give opening remarks and introduce the panel.

The Case For and Against Basic Income

Mia Birdsong, Natalie Foster, Rakeen Mabud, Elisabeth Mason

Long explored in the developing world, the idea of Basic Income has gained significant traction in the developed world, with pilot studies in Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, and even one in the United States. Is Basic Income the answer to the rising inequality and joblessness that is associated with accelerating automation? Or is BI a red herring, pulling focus away from the underlying economic, social and political challenges we face? Elisabeth Mason, leading social entrepreneur, philanthropic executive, international lawyer, and founding director of the Stanford Poverty and Technology Lab, will moderate this panel discussion that features author, social activist and luminary Mia Birdsong, senior fellow at Economic Security Project, Rakeen Mabud, director of the 21st Century Economy & Economic Inclusion Programs at Roosevelt Institute, and co-founder of the Economic Security Project, Natalie Foster.

The Promise of Systems Change

Sara Farley, Lisa Carpenter, Heather Grady, Christian Seelos

Solving problems was yesterday’s challenge. Today, donors strive for systems change. But how does systems change work? Will donors and grantees need to radically change their approaches? Or are we just serving old wine in new bottles? Fifty years ago, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, one of the pioneers of modern systems theories, claimed: “If someone were to analyze current notions and fashionable catchwords, he would find ‘systems’ high on the list.” What knowledge have we accumulated in the last 50 years that legitimates the hopes and resources invested in systems approaches? How can we equip decision makers with tools and frameworks to make smart decisions about systems change? These questions and other important topics in systems change will be explored in this panel moderated by Christian Seelos, distinguished fellow and director of the Global Innovation for Impact Lab at Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. Seelos will be joined by Sara Farley, co-founder and chief operating officer of The Global Knowledge Initiative, Lisa Carpenter, head of strategy, learning and impact of Humanity United, and Heather Grady, vice president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

Keynote: Is this global warming?

Noah Diffenbaugh

Are individual extreme events – such as heat waves, droughts, floods, and severe storms – linked to global warming? Techniques developed over the past decade allow scientists to answer this question. Those advances reveal that global warming can influence the risk of extreme events that are unprecedented in historical experience, particularly by altering the probability of the physical conditions that are responsible for the event. In this talk, Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh, Editor-in-Chief of Geophysical Research Letters, member of the Climate Safe Infrastructure Working Group for the State of California, and Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University will discuss his studies of the climate system, including the processes by which climate change could impact extreme weather, water resources, agriculture, and human health.

Keynote: Targeting aid, better?

Pascaline Dupas

Targeting social programs to needy households is an important part of what governments do. To do this effectively, governments must first identify who is truly needy, which is often difficult in developing countries where government infrastructure and information technology is limited. Can the availability of new and high frequency data streams—such as high-resolution satellite images and cell phone records—be combined with machine learning to target needy people better? When can self-selection or peer selection be successful? When does it fail? In this plenary keynote speech, Pascaline Dupas, associate professor of Economics at Stanford University, will discuss a series of innovations in targeting, drawing on insights from mechanism design, psychology and computer science.

Slavery & Child Labor in Global Supply Chains

Bama Athreya, Leslie Johnston, Siddharth Kara, Nina Smith

This session will feature an in-depth conversation about current efforts by governments, business, nonprofits, and scholars to ensure global supply chains are not tainted by forced labor, child labor, or other forms of severe labor exploitation. The discussion will pay particular attention to the garment sector. Panelists will also engage in a critical analysis of deficiencies in current efforts to eliminate labor exploitation in supply chains, and also share promising signs of systems change. This panel exploring modern slavery and child labor will be moderated by Siddharth Kara, director of the Program on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery at Harvard Kennedy School. He will be joined by Leslie Johnston, executive director of the C&A Foundation,Nina Smith, CEO of GoodWeave International, and Bama Athreya, senior specialist, Labor and Employment Rights at USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance.

A Human-Centered Approach to AI: What It Means for Individuals and Society

Fei-Fei Li

With the convergence of powerful computers, access to unprecedented amounts of data, and advanced mathematical models, artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to impact people at all levels – from the lives of individuals to the economic transformation of nations. The world-changing impact of AI technology is just beginning. But how can this technology be harnessed to best serve humanity’s fundamental needs? In this one-on-one conversation, SSIR’s Academic Editor Johanna Mair will discuss the impact of AI on individuals and society with Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist of AI at Google Cloud, associate professor at Stanford University’s Computer Science Department, and director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab and the Stanford Vision Lab. Li will also discuss her work as cofounder of AI4ALL, a nonprofit group of mission-driven academics, technologists, scientists, and business leaders based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The goal of AI4ALL is to increase diversity and inclusion in artificial intelligence by creating pipelines for underrepresented talent through education and mentorship programs around the U.S. and Canada, giving high school students early exposure to AI for social good.

Risk, Fragility, and Resilience: How Technology is Making the Invisible Visible

Marshall Burke, Nicole Hu, Bessie Schwarz, Andrew Zolli

From agriculture to sustainable development, public health to poverty, a combination of big data, remote sensing technologies, and powerful AI techniques are illuminating the world’s most complex systems as never before. Along the way, these new tools are transforming our understanding of risk, fragility and resilience, and putting powerful insights into the hands of frontline social innovation organizations. In this session, Andrew Zolli, author of Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back, and Vice President, Global Impact Initiatives at Planet Inc., will lead a panel discussion among leading researchers and NGO leaders exploring the potential of these new tools, their limitations, and the new social and ecological solutions they are likely to enable. He will be joined by Marshall Burke, assistant professor in the Department of Earth System Science and Center Fellow at the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University, Nicole Hu, chief technology officer and co-founder of One Concern, and Bessie Schwarz, Co-founder and CEO of Cloud to Street.

Human-Centered, Strategic, and Impactful: Design Thinking for Systems Change

Nadia Roumani, Chris Rudd, Alicia Sells, Tina Walha

How can I best innovate new programs, processes and systems? What do we do when we have limited staff time and resources to apply to this process? How do I deal with staff members who are resistant to these changes? How do I test a prototype within a complex social system? And perhaps most importantly, how do I get senior leadership on board with these new ideas? Trying to innovate within your foundation, nonprofit, social enterprise, or government agency, but struggling to figure out how to actually do it? With limited financial and human resources dedicated to innovation and experimentation, it can difficult for social sector organizations to spend the time and energy needed. In this interactive panel, Nadia Roumani, Senior Designer, Designing for Social Systems Program, Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school) and Director of Stanford’s Effective Philanthropy Lab, will lead a discussion with practitioners who have been applying design thinking and systems thinking methods boldly in their fields. Learn how they are addressing and overcoming some recurring challenges to effectively innovate programs, processes and systems, and hear how Stanford’s d.school has been working specifically with nonprofit, philanthropy, government and social impact leaders working within these constraints, empowering them to be more human centered, creative, strategic, and impactful. She will be joined by Chris Rudd, founder of ChiByDesign, Alicia Sells, director of innovation at the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative in Kentucky, and Tina Walha, director of innovation and performance, City of Seattle.

Keynote: Using Big Data and Analytics to Understand Immigration

Jens Hainmueller

In recent decades, a staggering 65 million people worldwide have been displaced by violence or persecution. Immigration issues have roiled US politics, upended the European Union, and caused severe social and political problems in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The successful integration of these immigrants and refugees has become an urgent policy challenge in many host countries; but policymakers have little trustworthy research to guide them. In this plenary keynote speech Stanford University Political Science professor Jens Hainmueller will discuss a series of studies by the Stanford Immigration Policy Lab (which he founded) that uses large datasets, creative research designs, and cutting-edge analytical tools to bring evidence to bear on the urgent problems surrounding immigration. By guiding the people who set public policy, as well as those who directly serve immigrant communities, this research can inspire new solutions and ultimately improve lives.

Keynote: Rethinking Who Gets What and Why

Tim O'Reilly

Alvin E. Roth shared the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on market design. The provocative title of his popular book, Who Gets What – And Why, identifies the central question of 21st century economics. The economic consensus has been that free markets are the best way to answer that question, but increasingly large swaths of the economy are now managed by internet platforms as centralized economies, managed by big data and algorithms. The opportunity before us is to use these new technologies to create a better allocation of the fruits of human effort and ingenuity rather than simply to extract monopoly rents for the platform owners. In this plenary keynote speech, Tim O’Reilly, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of O’Reilly Media, Inc., will discuss the overarching themes of his latest work, and provide inspiration on the ways that we can all be part of a brighter and more equitable future.

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