A Map of Social Innovation Territories:

A Tool for Navigating across Diverse Disciplines and Fields of Practice


  • Laura L. Murphy Tulane University
  • Maille E. Faughnan Tulane University


social innovation, theory, epistemology, ontology, pluriverse, academia


This paper offers a visual map of the landscape of social innovation to help clarify assumptions, overcome biases, and learn new approaches for making social and environmental changes in the 21st century. The map is a wayfinding tool to aid exploration, communication, and collaboration across sectors and worldviews. The map is oriented around different epistemologies (ways of knowing) and ontologies (ways of being), which carve out two key territories: (1) mainstream liberal social entrepreneurship (aligned with positivist epistemologies (western science); and (2) complexity-based models characterized by relational ways of being and calling for plural knowledges. We note (3) a rift across this landscape – formed by fault lines of positivist/non-positivist epistemologies and dualist/non-dualist ontologies. We explain how to use the map to locate your position, navigate, and explore new places. We point out bridges across barriers, including complexity thinking, design thinking, and attention to power.

Author Biographies

Laura L. Murphy, Tulane University

Laura L. Murphy, Clinical Associate Professor, Tulane University

Maille E. Faughnan, Tulane University

Maille E. Faughnan, Research Fellow, Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking, Tulane University




How to Cite

Murphy, L., & Faughnan, M. (2023). A Map of Social Innovation Territories:: A Tool for Navigating across Diverse Disciplines and Fields of Practice. Social Innovations Journal, 16(1). Retrieved from https://socialinnovationsjournal.com/index.php/sij/article/view/5375