How BYU-I students can socially innovate to help save the world

BYU-I center at sunset Photo credit: Sabrina Benites

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Mohandas K. Gandhi’s phrase was often taught in grade school when addressing how to make the world a better place. There are many issues plaguing the world with a dire need to be solved. Solutions are more essential than ever.

One way to be the change is to utilize social innovation.

Social innovation means coming up with new, effective solutions for social or environmental issues. It’s more than just an understanding of new technologies that can be helpful with daily lives; it’s a way to help society grow and prosper long-term.

Social innovation starts with finding a root cause analysis, or RCA. There are five steps to this:

  1. Clearly define the problem.
  2. Answer why the problem occurred.
  3. Check if the RCA has been discovered.
  4. Provide a solution to the RCA of the problem.
  5. Create and assign an action.

Finding the root cause analysis can help you narrow down your research to find that core problem. Once found, individuals can take the necessary steps to make social innovation happen.

Presenting your idea to others to get their input can help a lot. Everyone has different minds trained to think certain ways. Different brains coming together to create change can be beneficial, answering questions and prompting change.

Shane Wasden is the department chair of the Management Department at BYU-Idaho. He also is a professor of BUS 374, Social Innovation.

“Change starts small,” Wasden said. “As members of the Church, we don’t have to wait for change, or we don’t have to wait for a group. We can be the change or be the ones to proactively reach out and start doing something.”

Yet, people often struggle setting aside time to implement change. Many may find themselves asking, “How can I socially innovate even with my busy schedule?”

An answer to this question comes in the example of Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa, founders of Warby Parker, an online eyewear company.

They saw an issue individuals were passionate about: affordable glasses that are high quality and fashionable. Glasses are often expensive. Not everyone can afford to spend $400 on eyewear, especially if they are in college.

Blumenthal and Gilboa were regular college students. They had busy schedules, and struggled to set aside time for this project. Yet, because they had an internal passion to improve lives, they were able to create a company with a net worth of $3 billion.

Wasden shared that, even with busy schedules, students with enough passion to make change can find time to do so.

“With social innovation … a student or individual must show interest or become passionate about what the cause or the item is,” Wasden said. “Passion creates an intrinsic or internal motivation to act.”

Change can start small. You can donate clothes to thrift stores that provide cheap clothing or donate food to a food pantry for less-fortunate families and individuals.

The Family Crisis Center in Rexburg offers a great way to start being socially innovative. It welcomes volunteers and accepts donations to its food pantries and thrift shop.

You can invite your Home Evening group or friends to help you with the change you want to see in the world.

Sofia Carpenter, a senior studying public health, believes social innovation has changed her life.

“Being socially innovated has given me the confidence to not only start something to change the world in the future but to improve my own life starting now,” Carpenter said.