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  • Innovative Practices for Systems Transformations
    Vol. 5 (2021)

    Dear Reader,

    This edition titled, Innovative Practices for Systems Transformations, of the Social Innovations Journal is sponsored by the Transformations Community, a generative space and catalyzing force for sustainability research and practice. This global community of transformation “pracademics” (both practitioner and researcher) is responding to a growing recognition that we need new approaches to address climate change and other existential threats to social-ecological systems.

    In the spirit of the community’s pracademic identity, this edition lies between the formalistic rigor of scholarly peer-reviewed scientific articles and the advice and case histories and practical wisdom that are the lifeblood of communities of practice. This edition captures and shares what Aristotle called “phronesis”, or the practical wisdom of our members that is situated in specific time and place and requires deliberation, judgment, and choice, and above all, experience. This edition is divided into four sections, each with its own style, perspective on practice, and relationship between the authors and practitioner communities.

    The first section, Social Innovation In a Time of Disruption, contains five articles that Guest Editor Bruce Goldstein wrote that consider how social innovation organizations can maintain the enabling conditions for productivity, commitment, creativity, and purpose in a time of disruption. These papers emerged from his three-year partnership with a group of highly experienced and effective “netweavers” who shared what they had learned about how to pursue social justice and ecological and economic well-being while working remotely within collaborative learning networks. The core of these articles are the verbatim words of the netweavers themselves, which he organized and accompanied with enough commentary to make them coherent and cohesive. These articles are very timely as we emerge into a world transformed by the Covid-19 pandemic and poised to move beyond the reactionary Trump years. They get to the heart of how to lead our organizations to address seemingly intractable problems (such as systemic racism and climate change), adapt to changing conditions and new contexts, scale innovation, and respond rapidly to crisis.

    The second section, Transformation Workshop Papers, contains three articles written by Transformations Community members who facilitated interactive community online workshops. These papers provide guidance on how to organize and facilitate participatory visioning exercises to help diverse communities identify desirable social-ecological transformation pathways. They include a participatory food systems sustainability assessment framework from Europe, a method for people to reflect on their own social-ecological agency developed in a transformation laboratory in Mexico, and a scenario-building process that was developed in southern Africa for grappling with complex social-ecological issues and envisioning desirable futures. These approaches exemplify the focus of the transformative community on empowering diverse people to engage in knowledge co-production to enhance their ability to foster systems change.

    The third section contains four articles that capture the diversity and richness of the work undertaken by members of the Transformations Community. The first considers how visioning and project evaluation imported from the developed north to the global south are an expression of colonization, and can be improved by taking a more systemic perspective grounded in local culture and context. The second considers how a systems approach to evaluation can address the field’s fixation on projects, short timeframes, quantitative solutions, and accountability. The third article describes a way to visualize governance transformations across a regional transect, in order to understand how government, civil society and market forces can create positive momentum to respond to ecosystem change. The final article considers how a whole person learning approach can enhance individual capacities for social innovation, and describes how the Wolf Willow Institute for Systems Learning is teaching social innovators about systems change

    The final section, includes four contributions that complement the perspectives of the Transformations Community of Practice and suggest possibilities for collaboration and mutual learning. These four articles address the self-advocacy skills required of legal services clients in low-income communities, examine the work of the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development (PHENND), propose how social innovation networks can advance the practice of social innovation diplomacy, and consider how online social enterprise directories can address diverse stakeholder needs by overcoming common challenges in the social enterprise sector.

    Considered as a whole, the articles in this special issue provide a fascinating cross-section of the highly participatory and action-oriented work of the Transformations Community of Practice.

    We conclude by offering special thanks to Lisa Smith, the production editor of this special issue and Tica Lubin, who created the Transformations Community website and Netweaver Network website that hosts the workshops and netweaver dialogue series.

     

    Bruce Goldstein, University of Colorado Boulder, Guest Edition Curator and Editor

    Nicholas Torres, Co-Founder, Social Innovations Journal

  • Social Accountability and Accreditation; Interprofessional Education and Team Based Care; and Population Health Approaches to Global Health Access and Equitable Health
    Vol. 3 (2020)

    Dear Reader,

    This edition of the Social Innovations Journal was curated by The Network: Toward Unity for Health (TUFH), an official non state actor of the World Health Organization (WHO). TUFH is driven by a moral compact to mend the fabric of our communities upon which health depends. The Network: Toward Unity For Health is committed to drive communal interests by supporting local change agents work toward the adoption and implementation of global policy recommendations. TUFH concentrates its efforts on practical tools and solutions that can achieve action by local change networks.

    TUFH does its work by bringing the "Partnership Pentagram" to life by supporting local change agents and Networks. TUFH’s "Partnership Pentagram" is framed within the sustainable development goals and social determinants of health emphasizing that creating a health system based upon people’s needs must not only involve the five key players in the change process, but must also do so within the context of where people live and work. TUFH engages policymakers, academic institutions, health professionals, and communities to collectively address the underlying barriers to healthy individuals and communities.

    This edition highlights three policy action papers on social accountability and accreditation, interprofessional education and team-based care, and population health which were driven by TUFH’s policy fellows and guided by global thought leaders through TUFH’s Taskforces. Each policy action paper provides concrete policy recommendations and action steps for ministries of health, academic institutions, and health systems to adopt and implement. This edition also highlights best practices around the globe on the adoption and implementation of social accountability and accreditation, interprofessional education and team-based care, and population health.

    Around the world, global health policy leaders and associations are convening global leaders, publishing research and policy articles, and releasing “call to action” initiatives for political leaders and health system institutions to adopt and implement. Many of these recommendations are framed within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, indirectly correlated with the social determinants of health, indicating that health is much broader than clinical interventions. Today, we witness hospitals and health systems being more like “repair shops,” trying to correct the damage of causes collectively denoted “social determinants of health.” The global fabric of our communities upon which health depends is torn and we must heal this fabric through communal interests.

    We hope this edition is a first step toward healing the fabric of our communities.

    Sincerely,

    Nicholas Torres

    Co-Founder

  • Women, Migrant and Refugee, and Remote and Rural Health Care Best Practices
    Vol. 4 (2020)

    Dear Reader,

     

    This edition of the Social Innovations Journal is curated by The Network: Toward Unity for Health (TUFH), an official non-state actor of the World Health Organization. TUFH is driven by a moral compact to mend the fabric of our communities upon which health depends. The Network: Toward Unity For Health is committed to driving communal interests by supporting local change agents toward the adoption and implementation of global policy recommendations. TUFH concentrates its efforts on practical tools and solutions that achieve action by local change networks.

    TUFH does its work by bringing the “Partnership Pentagram” to life by supporting local change agents and networks. TUFH’s “Partnership Pentagram” is framed within the sustainable development goals and social determinants of health, emphasizing that creating a health system based upon people’s needs must not only involve the five key players in the change process, but must do so within the context of where people live and work. TUFH engages policymakers, academic institutions, health professionals, and communities to collectively address the underlying barriers to healthy individuals and communities.

    This edition highlights three policy action papers on women, migrant and refugee populations, and aging society health which were driven by TUFH’s policy fellows and guided by global thought leaders through TUFH’s taskforces. Each policy action paper provides concrete policy recommendations and actions steps for ministries of health, academic institutions, and health systems to adopt and implement. This edition also highlights best practices around the globe on the adoption and implementation of best practices in women, migrant and refugee, remote and rural, and aging society health.

    Around the world, global health policy leaders and associations are convening global leaders, publishing research and policy articles, and releasing “call to action” initiatives for political leaders and health system institutions to adopt and implement. Many of these recommendations are framed within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, indirectly correlated with the social determinants of health, indicating that health is much broader than clinical interventions. Today, we witness hospitals and health systems being more like “repair shops,” trying to correct the damage of causes collectively denoted “social determinants of health.” The global fabric of our communities upon which health depends is torn and we must heal this fabric through communal interests.

    We hope this edition is a first step toward healing this fabric.

     

    Sincerely,

    Nicholas Torres

    Co-Founder

     

  • Social Mobility: Inspiring and Building the Capacity of Local Change Agents to Impact Poverty
    Vol. 2 (2020)

    Dear Reader,

    For more than 10 years; The Social Innovations Journal has connected and inspired local change agents through the sharing of knowledge, best practices, and research to reduce poverty. Concrete impact and change require more than education and engagement -- it requires strategic action. This edition of the Social Innovations Journal highlights the strategies of key actors within the Philadelphia ecosystem who are collectively moving the needle on poverty.  To ensure we always have an international flavor, we have also included three articles related to initiatives in Venezuela as related to Social Mobility.

    To provide context, nearly one in four Philadelphians is living at or below the federal poverty line. Philadelphia's poverty rate is the highest among the 10 largest cities in the United States; and is more than double the national average. There are numerous city-run programs as well as 384 nonprofit organizations with the word "poverty" included in their missions that provide assistance to the residents of Philadelphia. Philadelphia City Council released its Poverty Action Plan focused on three strategies: Social Safety Net, Housing, and Jobs and Education.

    Legislators, government, not-for-profits, academic institutions, and to some extent private companies are all tackling poverty. Despite these efforts, agreed upon strategies, and an ongoing call to action, limited change has occurred for the simple reason that poverty is complex. What is needed is an agreed upon shared measurements and evaluation system that can assess the collective efforts and impact for all organizations. A shared measurement and a system-wide evaluation system would accomplish three things:

    • Measure the collective impact of all organizations working on poverty in the region, with the understanding that poverty can be reduced if the collective is aligned on what is important to assess.
    • Transparency in reporting that will provide organizations, and the collective, the opportunity to adjust their strategies/initiatives if the agreed upon measurements are not being achieved.
    • Data gathering from the collective that can be used to influence local, state, and national anti-poverty policies.

    Generally, local change is either driven by local change agents defined as individuals or institutions that are in a position to influence system behavior at their level OR policy change agents defined as governmental policymakers, regulators, or legislators who are advocating, organizing, and supporting change in a sustainable manner. Rather than local change agents working independently and often in isolation of each other, sustainable change will occur when change agents align their efforts towards collective impact through shared measurement goals.

    At the Social Innovations Journal, we believe that if we create platforms for the fostering of dialogue, learning, new knowledge, and the creation of communities of practice then we will inspire local change and policy agents to take action locally through adopting and implementing policy and strategy recommendations.

    We hope this edition inspires greater collaboration that results in collective action and impact to holistically address poverty in Greater Philadelphia as well as other ecosystems to ultimately help move individuals up the social mobility ladder to a living wage to reduce economic disparities. 

     

    Sincerely,

    Nicholas Torres, Edition Curator

  • An Insight Into Social Innovations Within the Human Services System and Population Health
    Vol. 1 (2020)

    An Insight into Social Innovations Within the Human Services System and Population Health highlights the beginning of a shift of human service organizations to a population health strategy. The relevance and applicability of population health to the human services is often overlooked as it is predominantly associated with the health care industry. However, health and human service leaders are shedding the old ways of doing business in favor of new approaches that are innovative, efficient, effective, and responsive to the needs and demands of focus populations.  

    In this issue, health and human services leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs share ideas on meaningful and inclusive strategic planning practices that disrupt the status quo; effective change processes that result in successful and sustainable changes at both the micro (organizational) and macro (state-wide systems) levels; technological innovations that engage people in the healing process; and much more.

    Readers will gain a greater sense of the promise that the intersectionality of social innovation, population health, and change initiatives hold across the spectrum of the human services system.