They will join Georgetown alumna Olga Maria and her husband Alberto Beeck, who are parents of two current undergraduate students and have made the centre possible with a $10 million gift to the university.
The Beeck Center aims to promote innovation among students hoping to address social issues. It will be housed within the Office of the Provost, unlike Duke and Stanford where similar social innovation centres rest in their respective business schools, as the university hopes it will be a cross-campus, cross-disciplinary resource for all students.
Sonal Shah, professor and former director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation at the White House, and Mark Hanis, former White House Fellow, will direct the centre. Shah previously worked at the U.S. Department of Treasury, Goldman Sachs, and Google.org.
Shah explained that the Beeck Center will have classes and programs, innovation labs, speaker events, and a fellows program all targeted towards current students, practitioners, alumni, and community members to foster social innovation skills.
“It’s not just about the business school, law school, and med school, it’s for everyone,” Shah told the university’s student newspaper. “Instead, it’s [a question of] how do we solve social issues across all disciplines?”
Academic institutions have the ability to push agendas and ask questions in ways that many businesses, nonprofits, and the government cannot, says Shah.
“Other universities that have social innovation often tend to see it from a business only perspective or nonprofit perspective, but Georgetown being in D.C. has the opportunity to engage the public sector,” Hanis added.
At the launch event tomorrow, which will be live streamed, there will also be workshops on design thinking and storytelling followed by a reception.
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