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Balancing financial return with social impact

In Global Initiatives in Management (GIM) Social Impact, students develop a foundation of knowledge about global sectors and economies through both classroom learning and engagement with in-country leaders, with a particular focus on institutions (either for-profit or nonprofit) that aim to generate positive social or environmental impact.

Course description

GIM Social Impact is a course designed to provide students with a broad introduction to the unique opportunities and challenges of designing and analyzing business models — either for-profit or not-for-profit — that create positive societal or environmental impact. Students will gain broad exposure to a variety of organizations that have deliberately designed their organization for social impact and will analyze how and where financial return is compatible with social impact.

In addition, students will have the opportunity to look in-depth at the challenges and market opportunities in Peru and Chile. Student teams will work on projects that start by analyzing a sector but then focus on particular enterprise(s), whether for-profit or nonprofit.

Course objectives

In order to achieve a robust understanding of organizations operating in the sector, students will be exposed to a broad range of companies and NGOs aiming to create social impact.

Students will learn frameworks for analyzing an organization’s potential for creating social impact and apply those frameworks to companies in class and during virtual meetings and plenaries as a means to better understand and compare across companies and organizations.

Students will develop a deeper understanding of the cultural and business context in Peru and Chile.

Students will exercise their skills in navigating and extending their personal and professional networks to establish meaningful connections and meetings.

Students will reflect upon the readings, class discussions and guest speakers, and virtual meetings and plenaries to extract key insights and apply these insights to their final projects and their personal and/or professional experiences moving forward.


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Faculty and advisor bios

Faculty bio

Dean Karlan is the Frederic Esser Nemmers Distinguished Professor of Economics and Finance at Northwestern University, and the Founder and President of Innovations for Poverty Action, a non-profit organization dedicated to discovering and promoting solutions to global poverty problems. Karlan is also on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the MIT Jameel Poverty Action Lab. In 2015, he also co-founded ImpactMatters, a nonprofit dedicated to estimating and rating the impact of nonprofit organizations in order to help donors choose good charities and to promote more transparency in the nonprofit sector.

His research focuses on microeconomic issues of poverty, typically employing experimental methodologies and behavioral economics insights to examine what works, what does not, and why to address social problems. His work spans many geographies and topics, including sustainable income generation for those in abject poverty, credit and savings markets for low-income households, agriculture for smallholder farmers, small and medium entrepreneurship, weight loss and smoking cessation, and charitable giving. He has worked in over twenty countries around the world, including both low-income countries and also the United States.

As a social entrepreneur, he co-founded, a website that uses lessons from behavioral economics to help people reach personal goals, such as weight loss and smoking cessation, through commitment contracts.

In 2011, Karlan co-authored "More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics is Helping to Solve Global Poverty"; in 2016 he co-authored "Failing in the Field"; in 2018 he co-authored "The Goldilocks Challenge: Right-Fit Evidence for the Social Sector"; and in 2020 he co-authored the third edition of an economics principles textbook, "Economics."

Karlan received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was awarded distinguished alumni awards from the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business and the Duke University Talent Identification Program.

Previously, Karlan was the Samuel C Park, Jr Professor of Economics at Yale University, and Assistant Professor of Economics at Princeton University. Karlan received a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT, an MBA and an M.P.P. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Virginia.

Advisor bio

Minya Nance is the Director of Strategic Student Experience and has been at Kellogg for six years. In her role, she is focused on diversity, equity and inclusion at Kellogg. Her work helps to identify ways to foster inclusion at Kellogg and design and execute cross-cultural leadership development opportunities. Prior to this role, she served as Director of Admissions Operations, creating the strategy and leading the operational execution of creating a seamless admissions process for applicants. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Psychology from Miami University and an M.S. in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University.

Minya has a deep dedication towards her own development and the development of others to better understand and leverage diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds to enhance the communities and organizations that they serve. She is thrilled with the opportunity to serve as an advisor this year for Kellogg’s GIM trip to Peru and Chile.