Brown School launches first social work-based social entrepreneurship program

Interest in social entrepreneurship — using innovation and enterprise to address social problems — has exploded, but training always has been from a business perspective.

This fall, the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis will be home to the first social entrepreneurship program based in a social work setting.

“There is enormous enthusiasm among our students and recent graduates, many of whom want to apply entrepreneurial thinking to social problems,” says Edward F. Lawlor, PhD, dean of the Brown School and the William E. Gordon Distinguished Professor. “With generous support from the Skandalaris Center, we were able to develop and launch a successful pilot that serves as a foundation for this new specialization.”

“We are excited to work with the Brown School on this initiative and for the opportunity to help educate future leaders who will take innovative approaches to address social issues,” says Ken Harrington, managing director of the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

“With the field placements and the YouthBridge Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition, students will have many opportunities to connect with the St. Louis innovation ecosystem,” he says.

Social entrepreneurship at the Brown School is a 12-credit specialization within the master of social work (MSW) program. The program is based at the Brown School, but it is available to students from the Olin Business School, the School of Law and other schools across the university.

In addition to classes that focus on social entrepreneurship and business planning, students will participate in field placements related to the specialization. Students will have opportunities to meet with and be mentored by practicing social entrepreneurs.

The Brown School also will partner across the university to host a lecture series and convene a conference on social entrepreneurship.

For more information about the program, contact Amanda Moore McBride, PhD, associate professor and associate dean for social work at the Brown School, at or (314) 935-9778.