Glossary of Change: The Language of Social Impact

What is community development, environmental sustainability, global citizenship, and social innovation?

Community change can come with some complicated concepts. Social innovation, social entrepreneurship, community development, global citizenship — all these terms can be confusing. Yet these are the words you come across when reading about community change or listening to speeches from innovators worldwide.

Not sure what all of these mean? Let’s look look at some of common phrases and words that often accompany social entrepreneurship.

What is: Community Development

Community development is when a group of people work together to identify challenges and come up with solutions to problems faced in their community. Those solutions can involve social innovation of some kind. Like social entrepreneurship, community development recognizes that locals are the best people to come up with solutions for their community.

What is: Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is a key theme of social entrepreneurship.

An environmental sustainability means thinking ahead to how a business or project might affect the environment in the long-term. Their decisions realize that privileges such as water, plants, and food may not be around forever, and that careful measures must be taken to preserve them.

For example, an environmentally sustainable business is one that sells and encourages restaurants to use charcoal briquettes made of local scrap materials rather than firewood. By recycling materials and not cutting down trees, the business actively considers the well being of the Earth.

What is: Global Citizenship

This term does not mean you magically have a passport for every country around the world (though that would be nice). Global citizenship is about how a person interacts with others globally.

If a scholarship application is looking for a global citizen, it means they want someone who is open minded, socially responsible, and works well with people from diverse cultures, countries, and backgrounds. An example of global citizenship is to participate in online discussions and debates with other members of the DOT network, or to collaborate with youth worldwide to solve a common social problem.

What is: Social Innovation

Social innovation does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple as recognizing a challenge faced by a community and coming up with a creative solution. There may already be solutions to that problem, but social innovation improves those ideas and solves problems in a more effective and sustainable way.

Here is an example of social innovation. A young entrepreneur sees that farmers in her community are too reliant on expensive soybeans and corn for feeding poultry. As a solution, she creates a highly nutritious, lower cost feed blend using agricultural byproducts and food waste. That feed is more environmentally friendly and can be sold to farmers at half the cost. She has added value to her community, helped her peers, and found a better way to feed animals.

These are just a few of the complex phrases you may come across. Are there others you want defined and explained? Mention them in the comment section and they may be featured in a future blog post!

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