Mason Launches Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship

Posted: April 4, 2011 at 1:05 am, Last Updated: April 1, 2011 at 10:49 am

Greg Werkheiser

Greg Werkheiser, managing director of the new center

The university has launched the new Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship, a university-wide, multidisciplinary initiative that seeks to position Mason at the vanguard of the social innovation movement.

“The Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship will foster leaders, research and strategies for tackling major social challenges of the 21st century,” says Mason Provost Peter Stearns. “Mason — ‘Where Innovation Is Tradition’ — is a natural place to break new ground in this ever-evolving field.”

Greg Werkheiser is the center’s inaugural managing director. Werkheiser, a lawyer, educator and social entrepreneur, is founding director of the Phoenix Project, a Virginia-based organization that engages in social entrepreneurship-focused teaching, technology and partnership-building. Under Werkheiser’s leadership, the Phoenix Project’s team and programs will align with the new center.

“Greg has been devising new strategies for preparing leaders to meet society’s great challenges for 15 years,” says Roger Stough, Mason vice president for research and economic development. “We are very excited to welcome his passion and vision and the experience of his team to this defining effort of the university.”

Says Werkheiser: “Social entrepreneurs tackle failed social systems — economic, educational and environmental — with business savvy and solutions that stick. The world needs their audacity, and we invite them to consider the center at Mason as a second home.”

Paul Rogers, an assistant professor of English, will serve as the center’s faculty director, and Philip Auerswald, an associate professor of public policy, will serve as senior scholar. Deans and faculty members in many other academic units have been instrumental in laying the groundwork over a year-long planning process and will play a vital role in the center’s activities.

Programs in 2011 will set the stage for the center’s active engagement in finding entrepreneurial solutions to urgent challenges facing the region, the nation and the world, combining legacy Phoenix Project programs and current Mason initiatives and emerging efforts. Programming includes the following:

  • The Accelerating Social Entrepreneurship Conference, to be held in fall 2011
  • AVAIL, a web-based portal in development with Learn and Serve America and technology company TRUiST
  • The Social Entrepreneurship Awards
  • Innovation Speaker’s Bureau
  • The Social Entrepreneur in Residence Program

In its first year, the center will also grow its research program to provide opportunities for faculty members and students at all levels to explore the issues and analysis critical to advancing the field.



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