EGR 498: Special Topics in Social Entrepreneurship - Rethinking Social Profit Organizations with Martin Johnson,

A growing number of entrepreneurs are solving social and environmental challenges by creating private 'nonprofit' organizations and projects. This course will explore the challenges and opportunities they face. While the course will cover the styles and competencies that successful nonprofit managers tend to exhibit, it will explore system-wide changes needed to improve the sector's outcomes, including key ways that funders, government, businesses and the beneficiaries of nonprofits can help.

This course takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:00 am to 12:20 pm.

Sample Reading List

  • David Grant, The Social Profit Handbook
  • Nancy Andrews, David Erickson, What Works for America's Communities:
  • Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
  • Cytron, Pettit, Kinsley, What Counts: Harnessing Data for America's Communities
  • Wei-Skillern, Austin, Leonard, Stevenson, Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector
  • Sendhil Mullanaithan, Eldar Shafir, Scarcity: Why Having So Little Means So Much

Reading/Writing Assignments

We will use short lectures (some provided by expert visiting lecturers), text-based discussions, role playing, student team presentations and case studies. Reading assignments will generally consist of 90 pages per week. There will be one individual five to seven page paper assigned week four and due at the end of that week. The final assignment will be a 20 to 25-page group paper.


  • Paper in lieu of Final - 35%
  • Papers - 25%
  • Oral Presentation(s) - 15%
  • Class/Precept Participation - 25%

Other Requirements

Not Open to Freshmen.

Prerequisites and Restrictions

None, except curiosity and a willingness to work on innovative solutions to social challenges

Special Topics in Social Entrepreneurship - Ventures to Address Global Challenges with John Danner

Course focuses on how entrepreneurial ventures - as compared with international aid programs, private philanthropy and corporate social responsibility initiatives - can potentially address major global challenges such as widespread poverty, intractable disease, health policy, slum housing and global warming that affect the lives and well-being of billions. After overview of selected global challenges and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, will explore emerging and established ventures in each of these challenge arenas in more detail. Classes: combination of lectures and case discussions, interspersed with conversations with entrepreneurs.


  • Rangan, Quelch, Herrero and Barton, Business Solutions to Global Poverty
  • International Finance Corporation and World Resources, The Next Four Billion
  • C.K. Prahalad, The Fortune At The Bottom of The Pyramid
  • David Bornstein, How To Change The World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power


Two short written snapshot critiques of existing global challenge ventures (GCV) or potential ideas/technologies that could be the basis of such a venture; 5-minute team YouTube video presentation of selected GCV or GCV concept; 15-page team term paper on short business plan for a new GCV or assessment of existing GCV.


  • Quizzes - 10%
  • Papers - 10%
  • Oral Presentation(s) - 20%
  • Term Paper(s) - 25%
  • Class/Precept Participation - 10%
  • Other (See Instructor) - 25%


Not Open to Freshmen.


None, other than curiosity about the intersection between global challenges and entrepreneurship. This course is not open to students who took EGR 495 Special Topics in Entrepreneurship: Ventures to Address Global Challenges.


Examination of whether and how private sector entrepreneurial ventures can meaningfully contribute to solving complex large-scale global challenges such as reducing absolute poverty, improving literacy, upgrading health status, slowing global warming and the like; and how such ventures compare with other, more traditional, approaches to these issues such as foreign aid programs, philanthropic initiatives and corporate social responsibility efforts.