Life With Alacrity

A blog on social software, collaboration, trust, security, privacy, and internet tools by Christopher Allen.

Teaching “Using the Social Web for Social Change” at


Bgiedu seal 248x248 Starting next week I will be teaching a course at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute on the topic of "Using the Social Web for Social Change".

BGI offers an MBA and Certificate program for professionals to learn how to build enterprises that are financially successful, socially responsible and environmentally sustainable. Students have to learn everything that they'd have to learn in an ordinary MBA program — profit and loss, how to read a balance sheet, business plan creation, macroeconomics, quantitative analysis, corporate strategy, how to manage and motivate people, and a basic understanding of all the components of business such as operations, marketing, distribution, sales, etc. In addition, BGI student have to learn green and sustainability topics — the triple-bottom line, environmental accounting, sustainable energy, social justice, systems thinking, organization change, right livelihood and much more.

That broad a curriculum doesn't give students a lot of room for electives, but the MBA program allows for students to take one 3 credit hour course. This year students can choose from three: one course on social responsibility, a second course on climate change and carbon trading, and my course on the social web.

The BGI pedagogy (a new term I have just learned, meaning "teaching method") is a mixed hybrid of online sessions along with a number of very intensive in-person classroom sessions. This allows the MBA student to continue working while taking classes in either a 2-year or 3-year program.

The Cobb House at Channel RockThe IslandWood Main Hall Students kick off their BGI experience at Channel Rock on Cortes Island in British Columbia, where the live for a week at an off-the-grid wilderness retreat, where they get the chance to experience and practice sustainability. Over the course of the year students and faculty meet in intensive classroom sessions for a 4-day weekend once a month at the  IslandWood environmental learning center on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, Washington. Between sessions, the classes utilize a variety of online distance-learning technologies such as Elluminate to support student learning.

I like this hybrid format because it fits my ideals of group formation — bonding and team building work best in the immersive, in-person experience, yet the online technologies allow students to have greater flexibility, deeper focus, and more control over their engagement while remote. BGI offers students both.

When the class is complete, I plan to offer the syllabus, course plan, presentations, etc. online as open courseware, so that other schools can use these materials as a basis for future classes. In the meantime, expect to see some more posts here over the next few months.


Hi Christopher, We've done a lot of work in this area in the past couple of years at We've been running online competitions to surface social innovation with corporate partners like Nike and foundation partners like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We've learned a lot and would welcome the chance to spread some of that knowledge. Good luck, looks like a great place!

Robert Q. Benedict

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