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History of the Center for Social Innovation

Man giving a lecture

In the late 1990s, Stanford GSB faculty, the dean’s office, students, and alumni recognized an opportunity for Stanford GSB to play a critical role in developing leaders to help solve global social and environmental challenges.

In 1999, they came together to create the Center for Social Innovation and reinforce Stanford GSB’s leadership in educating global leaders.

Jim Phills, professor of organizational behavior, joined in 2000 as the first faculty director to champion this ambitious agenda. Under Jim’s leadership, the center developed a robust strategic plan and created an extensive array of programs that would establish the Center for Social Innovation as the academic leader.

Leveraging the assets of Stanford University and Stanford Graduate School of Business, CSI expanded the work of the school to a larger audience of executives around the globe through research, education, and community outreach. The Center set on a course to create a field of social innovation, a journey that led to the launch of multiple academic centers for social innovation around the world and the creation of the White House Office for Social Innovation in the United States.

Today, the Center for Social Innovation focuses its efforts at home supporting Stanford faculty in their pursuit of knowledge to educate insightful leaders for social and environmental change.