Dóri Pap and Susan Davis - Ideas to Serve: the Evolution of Social Innovation Education at GeorgiaTech

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Dóri Pap
Susan Davis


This letter delves into the transformation of social innovation education at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) by exploring the evolution of its Ideas to Serve competition. Against the backdrop of Georgia Tech's vision for the next decade as an inclusive innovation hub, this narrative captures a conversation between Dori Pap, Managing Director, and Susan Davis, Practitioner in Residence at the Institute for Leadership and Social Impact. They discuss how the competition has evolved from fostering "heropreneurs" to empowering students to critically engage with systemic social issues. They present a compelling recap of how Georgia Tech has reimagined social innovation education by elevating community-based organizations as co-educators, inspiring students to become effective and empathetic social entrepreneurs.

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Author Biographies

Dóri Pap, Georgia Tech Institute for Leadership and Social Impact, 800 W Peachtree St NW, Atlanta, GA, 30332 USA

Dóri Pap is the Managing Director of the Institute for Leadership and Social Impact at the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She directs the Leadership for Social Good Study Abroad Program in Central and Eastern Europe, coordinates the Impact Speaker Series, runs the annual Ideas to Serve student social innovation competition, and teaches courses on social entrepreneurship. Outside Tech, Dóri serves on the board of Global Growers Network, a nonprofit organization that connects the agricultural talent of the refugee community in and around Atlanta to opportunities in sustainable agriculture. She is also a board member for the Center for Civic Innovation, an organization that works at the frontline of civics education and advocacy. Dori is a triple Yellow Jacket and is currently pursuing her doctorate degree at the Louise McBee Institute for Higher Education at UGA. Her research interests include social innovation, leadership, and inclusive postsecondary programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Susan Davis, Georgia Tech Institute for Leadership and Social Impact, Atlanta, USA

Susan is a Practitioner in Residence at Georgia Tech’s Institute of Leadership and Social Impact.  Her other job is as the Director of Equitable Giving at the Segal Family Foundation. She leads work in engaging peers in the funding community in the US and globally to advance the foundation’s mission of transforming how change happens in Africa. Susan has decades of leadership roles in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds, including EnCompass LLC, Agenda for Change, CARE, and Skoll Awardees Water For People and WaterPartners International (now water.org). She has expertise in collective impact, systems strengthening and change, partnership brokering, and international development. Most recently she was Chief of Party for USAID’s Global Waters Communication and Knowledge Management program. She founded Improve International, a not-for-profit research and consulting firm that promoted learning from failure to improve the responses to the global water and sanitation crises. Susan has evaluated or supported international development activities in 23 countries and advised donors, impact investors, and donor advisors on how to invest in effective sustainable water and sanitation services in developing countries. She also guided nonprofits and social enterprises in strategies for lasting impact.  She has a Master of Public Health from The George Washington University and a B.S. in Applied Biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology.