The College of Business and Communication will offer a Social Innovations class that will be available in Spring Semester 2015.
Spencer Hoffman, a sophomore studying healthcare administration, helped put this class together.
“Social Innovations is a class that is centered on helping students transform their career into something more,” Hoffman said. “The class will help them create their ideas into a career that makes them money and also helps out in the world.”
Hoffman said he first had the idea to study social innovations after talking to a psychology professor about his desire to pursue a career in mental health. When he found out that BYU-Idaho did not have a program in social innovations, he took his idea to President Clark who suggested that he try to start a class.
Hoffman teamed with Mark Nygren, a professor in the Business Department, to create the class, and they had it approved as a special projects class.
In October, Social Innovations will be brought to the curricular council to be approved for the 2016 course catalog.
“Social innovation is using the same principles of concepts as entrepreneurs who create businesses for profit,” Nygren said. “But it takes those same skillsets — innovation, risk and change — and addresses some of the major social problems that exist in society.”
Hoffman said the class will focus on teaching these skills to students.
“We’ve grown in the Church always talking about charity and being the Good Samaritan,” Hoffman said. “And that is just what Social Innovations is all about.”
Hoffman said the class will be set like a hybrid class. It will have many out-of-class readings, videos to watch, guest speakers and hands-on projects.
“We are hoping the kids are in this class because they really do want to make a difference,” Hoffman said. “The readings are going to teach them how. There are four or five projects that we have, and they are all very hands-on.”
Hoffman said they are also looking into grants, scholarships and competitions the students can pitch their ideas to so they can get funding to go ahead and turn those ideas into a reality.
“You come with your career, your desires, and then we are going to teach you how to focus those and concentrate them and funnel them into a social enterprise, whatever it might be,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman said the class has already been accepted into several majors as an option for students to take. International studies, public administrations, sociology and social work, and other health science majors have all accepted the class into their programs.
“Students are sometimes forgetting that we are disciples of Christ,” Hoffman said. “We do have the focus of the restored gospel. Why not use this in our careers?”
Nygren said he hopes students will be able to use the skills they learn in this class to be socially responsible and to give back to society.
“The primary outcome of this course is for every student to have the mindset that they can be change makers regardless of what they are doing,” Nygren said.
Hoffman said he is excited to see what a class like this can do for BYU-I.
Part of BYU-I’s mission is to “Prepare students for lifelong learning, for employment, and for their roles as citizens and parents,” according to the BYU-I website.
Hoffman said he feels this class will help students learn the skills necessary to go out in the world and carry the values they learned here at BYU-I and make a difference.
“I’ve seen what this type of program has done at other schools and there are students doing some fantastic things,” Hoffman said. “There are all sorts of social issues that can be taken care of through social innovations.”
Social Innovations is listed under the course code B 399-01 as a Special Projects class.