Introduction to Social Impact P11.0020
Paul C. Light
Spring, 2014
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00-3:15
Global Center for Academic & Spiritual Life
Room 369
Office Hours: Wednesdays 1:00-3:00
Course Description
This course is designed to give students a broad introduction to social impact—what it is, how
we produce more, what you can do to create it. In a single sentence, social impact is the act of
solving difficult social problems. Period. Students will explore this definition, ways that they
can produce social impact throughout their lives, explore the current state of social impact work,
and more Americans will engage in creating social impact.
The course is also designed to explore the range of alternatives for social impact—e.g., through
traditional political participation (voting), personal volunteering and advocacy, careers in public
service, service on nonprofit boards, and socially-responsible engagement in corporate careers.
The course will argue that all citizens have the chance to create social impact during their lives—
the question is how to improve the odds that they will both make and sustain their commitment.
The course is built around a simple model of creating social impact in two dimensions. The first
involves the duration/intensity of the experience, while the second involves the demand side for
social impact efforts—required/coerced v. given freely.
Three V’s
Social Impact Careers
Service Learning
National Service
Course Requirements
Students are required to attend all classes and complete all assignments on time. The class will
be built around discussion of the readings. Readings are to be completed before class. There
will be a final examination, a research paper making a single recommendation for increasing the
amount of public service, which will be due on the last day of class. Final grades will be based
on the following formula. The research paper is to be 5,000 words or less with at least 10 peerreviewed academic research sources.1
20% class participation
50% research paper
30% final exam
There is just one required book for this class:
Russell J. Dalton, The Good Citizen: How a Younger Generation is Reshaping American
All other readings are on NYU CLASSES or through links to the Internet
Peer reviewed sources can be found at ProQuest central: (1) go to home.nyu.edu, (2) click on
the research tab, (3) click on databases A-Z, (4) type in ProQuest central, (5) select ProQuest
central, (6) open the advanced search tab, (7) enter your term(s), click on the “peer reviewed”
box under search options, and (8) sort your results from most recent to oldest.
Week 1a.
Week 1b.
What did the Framers Think of Us?
U.S. Constitution, find it online and bookmark it
The Federalist, no. 10 (“The Mischiefs of Faction”), no. 51 (“Checks and Balances”), and
no. 68 (“The Mode of Electing the President”), find it online and bookmark it
Week 2a:
What is Social Impact?
Geoff Mulgan, “Measuring Social Value,” Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2010
Lisbeth B. Schorr, “Broader Evidence for Bigger Impact,” Stanford Social Innovation
Review, 2013
Fay Twersky, Phil Buchanan, & Valerie Threlfall, “Listening to Those Who Matter Most,
the Beneficiaries,” Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2013
Week 2b:
How Do We Map It?
W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Logic Model Development Guide, 2004, chapters 1-4
Week 3a:
Why Do You Care About Social Impact Anyway?
Francis B. M. de Waal, “The Antiquity of Empathy,” Science, 2012
C. Daniel Batson, Nadia Ahmad, and Jo-Ann Tsang, “Four Motives for Community
Involvement,” Journal of Social Issues, 2002
Pew Research Center, Millennials: A Portrait of General Next, February 2010
Sara H. Konrath, et al. “Changes in Dispositional Empathy in American College Students
Over Time: A Meta-Analysis,” Personality and Social Psychology Review, 2010 (Prepare
a list of three findings of interest to you)
Week 3b:
What is Your Problem?
Horst W. J. Rittel, and Melvin M. Webber, “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning,”
Policy Sciences, 1973
Bill Shore, Darell Hammond, & Amy Celep, “When Good Is Not Good Enough,”
Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fall 2013
Cynthia Gibson, Katya Smyth, Gail Nayowith, & Jonathan Zaff, “To Get to the Good,
You Gotta Dance With the Wicked,” Stanford Social Innovation Review, blog post,
September 19, 2013
Week 4a:
What Can You Do?
Dalton, The Good Citizen, chapters 1-5
Paul Light, “The Spiral of Sustainable Excellence,” in Paul Light, Sustaining
Performance: The Case for Capacity Building and the Evidence to Prove It, 2004
Karen Xu, “Popular Science,” Harvard Magazine, January/February, 2014
Week 4b:
What Are the Barriers to Impact?
Thomas E. Mann & Norman J. Ornstein, “Finding the Common Good in an Era of
Dysfunctional Governance,” Daedalus, 2013
Daniel Kaufmann, Aart Kraay and Massimo Mastruzzi, “The Worldwide Governance
Indicators: Methodological and Analytical Issues,” September 2010 (After reading about
the indicators and aggregating methodology, visit
http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/mc_countries.asp, and see how the indicators
work by selecting countries, regions, and/or the world to examine the ratings
Paul Theroux, “Africa’s Aid Mess,” Barron’s, November 30, 2013
Week 5a:
What Does the Future Hold?
Arnoud De Meyer, Christoph H. Loch and Michael T. Pich, “Managing Project
Uncertainty: From Variation to Chaos,” MIT Sloan Management Review, 2002
Muhammad Amer, Tugrul U. Daim, Antonie Jetter, “A Review of Scenario Planning,”
Futures, 2013
Week 5b:
How Do You Find the Solution?
Tim Brown, “Design Thinking,” Harvard Business Review, 2009
Andrew B. Hargadon and Yellowlees, “When Innovations Meet Institutions: Edison and
the Design of the Electric Light,” Administrative Science Quarterly, 2001
Mary Bryna Sanger and Martin A. Levin, “Using Old Stuff in New Ways: Innovation as
a Case of Evolutionary Tinkering,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 1992
Week 6a.
Have You Done the Reading?
Check-in test to determine type of final exam
Week 6b:
What is the Current Context?
Robert D. Putnam, “Tuning In, Tuning Out: The Strange Disappearance of Social Capital in
America,” PS: Political Science and Politics, December 1995
Robert D. Putnam, “Bowling Together,” American Prospect, February 11, 2002
Thomas H. Sander and Robert D. Putnam, “Still Bowling Alone? The Post-9/11 Split,”
January 2010
Robert D. Putnam, “Crumbling American Dreams,” New York Times, August 3, 2013
John Miller, “Active, Balanced, and Happy: These Young Americans Are Not Bowling
Alone,” 2011
Week 7a:
Why Not Watch TV?
Pew Research Center, Civic Engagement in the Digital Age, 2013
Commission on Youth Voting and Civic Knowledge, All Together Now: Collaboration
and Innovation for Youth Engagement, 2013 (Browse for tone and broad findings)
Sebastián Valenzuela, “Unpacking the Use of Social Media for Protest Behavior:
The Roles of Information, Opinion Expression, and Activism,” American
Behavioral Scientist, 2013
Week 7b:
Does Anyone Want Your Help?
Theda Skocpol, Marshall Ganz, and Ziad Munson, “A Nation of Organizers: The
Institutional Origins of Civic Volunteerism in the United States,” American Political
Science Review, September 2000
Theda Skocpol, Rachel Cobb, and Casey Klofstad, “Disconnection and Reorganization:
The Transformation of Civic Life in Late-Twentieth Century America,” Studies in
American Political Development, Fall 2005
Week 8a:
Where Did You Learn How to Crack the World?
Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools,
Guardians of Democracy: The Civic Mission of Schools, 2011, entire
John R. Rachal, “We’ll Never Turn Back: Adult Education and the Struggle for
Citizenship in Mississippi’s Freedom Summer,” American Educational Research
Journal, 1998
Week 8b:
What Did You Learn?
Christine I. Celio, Joseph Durlak, and Allison Dymnicki “A Meta-analysis of the Impact
of Service-Learning on Students,” Journal of Experiential Education, 2011
Sara E. Helms, ”Involuntary Service: The Impact of Mandated Service in Public
Schools,” Economics of Education Review, 2013
Week 9a:
Can Corporations Behave?
Margaret E. Ormiston, and Elaine M. Wong, “License to Ill: The Effects of Corporate
Social Responsibility and CEO Moral Identity on Corporate Social Irresponsibility,”
Personnel Psychology, 2013
Herman Aguinis and Ante Glavas, “Review and Research Agenda: What We Know and
Don’t Know About Corporate Social Responsibility,” Academy of Management, 2012
Ataur Rahman Belal, and Stuart Cooper, “The Absence of Corporate Social
Responsibility Reporting in Bangladesh,” Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 2011
Stephanie Clifford, and Steven Greenhouse, “Fast and Flawed Inspections of Factories
Abroad,” New York Times, September 1, 2013
Jim Yardley, “Clothing Brands Sidestep Blame for Safety Lapses,” New York Times,
December 30, 2013
Week 9b:
Can Corporations Control Themselves?
Gael M. Mcdonald, “An Anthology of Codes of Ethics,” European Business Review,
John C. Lere, and Bruce R. Gaumnitz, “Changing Behavior by Improving Codes of
Ethics,” American Journal of Business, 2007
Eric D. Raile, “Building Ethical Capital: Perceptions of Ethical Climate in the Public
Sector,” Public Administration Review, 2013
Week 10a:
Why Do You Work?
Gloria Larson, and Mike Metzger, “Why Everyone is Wrong about Working with
Millennials: Millennials Aren’t as Lazy and Entitled as They’re Made Out to Be,” Fast
Company, December, 2013
Donna Lind Infeld, and William C. Adams, “MPA and MPP Students: Twins, Siblings, or
Distant Cousins?” Journal of Public Affairs Education, 2011
Week 10b:
What Are Your Options?
Paul C. Light, Driving Social Change: How to Solve the World’s Toughest Problems,
chapters 1-2
Christian Seelos, and Johanna Mair, “Innovation is Not the Holy Grail,” Stanford Social
Innovation Review, Fall 2012
Week 11a:
How Do You Work?
Pino Audia and Christopher Rider, “A Garage and an Idea: What More Does an
Entrepreneur Need?” California Management Review, 2005
Jasjit Singh, and Lee Fleming, “Lone Inventors as Sources of Breakthroughs: Myth or
Reality?” Management Science, 2010
Elizabeth Watson, “Who or What Creates? A Conceptual Framework for Social
Creativity,” Human Resource Development Review, 2007
Week 11b:
How is the Paper Going?
Bring draft of your problem statement with at least 10 sources already identified
Week 12a:
Where Can You Make a Difference?
Paul C. Light, Education for Public Service, Memo prepared for the Volcker Alliance for
Effective Governance, Salzburg Seminar, 2013
Paul C. Light, “A Government Ill Executed: The Depletion of the Federal Service,”
Public Administration Review, 2008
Week 12b:
Why Not Just Run?
Cherie D. Maestas, Sarah Fulton, Sandy L. Maisel, and Walter J. Stone, “When to Risk
It? Institutions, Ambitions, and the Decision to Run for the U.S. House,” American
Political Science Review; May 2006
Week 13a:
What about the All-Voluntary Force?
Congressional Budget Office, “The All-Volunteer Military: Issues and Performance,”
Week 13b:
What about National Service?
Carol Armistead Grigsby, “Binding the Nation: National Service in America,”
Parameters, Winter 2008-09
David A. Reingold, and Leslie Lenkowsky, “The Future of National Service,” Public
Administration Review, December, 2010
Week 14a:
Will Anything You Do Really Work?
James Dewar, Assumption Based Planning: A Planning Tool for Very Uncertain Times,
chapters 1-6
Week 14b:
Will It Last?
Paul C. Light, “From Endeavor to Achievement and Back Again: Government’s Greatest
Hits in Peril,” in Steven Conn, ed., To Promote the General Welfare: The Case for Big
Government, 2012