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Big Picture Issues
IFF are hosting a series of lectures, presentations and seminars in Scotland on the theme of social innovation - as part of a wider inquiry into this as a model of social change. An edited volume of papers on the subject is planned for 2007.
The theme of social innovation was central to the IFF's plenary session in India in January/February 2006 (see report here). We were intrigued by the image in India of fireflies and buffaloes: the nimble, local, community and social entrepreneurs, and the larger, more bureaucratic organisations that they need to relate to and engage with in order to bring about change at any scale. Hence our interest in social innovation lies in improving the relationship and engagement between the fireflies and the buffaloes. Or - to put it another way - figuring out how best to perform the dance between government, business and civil society that leads to effective social change.
Scotland's Futures Forum at the Scottish Parliament hosted the first two lectures in Scotland (http://www.scotlandfutureforum.org). IFF Member Pat Heneghan has generously made the Boathouse at Aberdour available for the seminar series (http://www.forthroad.com/introduction.asp).
Last updated: 8 Jul 2013
The first lecture and seminar in the series were delivered on 2 and 3 March by Geoff Mulgan, Director of the Young Foundation. He outlined the content of the Foundation's 'Manifesto for Social Innovation' . This makes the case for paying as much attention to social innovation as to scientific and technological innovation. He outlined the role that new institutions might be able to play in forging more productive relationships between the 'fleas and the elephants' (to use Charles Handy's metaphor) or between the fireflies and the buffaloes (to use the IFF's).
The second lecture and seminar took place on 26 and 27 June with Alison Elliot, former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Alison spoke about 'the spirit of social innovation' - as it shows up in faith-based communities. She drew on her extensive travel in her official role. The subsequent seminar considered the differences between her take on social innovation and Geoff Mulgan's - working towards a synthesis.
The third lecture and seminar took place on 7 and 8 December. Prof Irene McAra-McWilliam, head of design at the Glasgow School of Art, outlined a designer's approach to social innovation, emphasising the role of the creative imagination and the importance of creating a product - even at an early stage in any process, using whatever knowledge is available. The seminar experimented with this approach in relation to an existing project (in Falkirk). It also looked for the similarities and distinctions between Irene's approach to social innovation and those outlined in previous presentations.
Reports of the March, June and December seminars are available for download below, along with a copy of Alison Elliot's presentation in the Scottish Parliament and the full text of her lecture.
Documents for download
Click on the documents below to download them to your hard disk.
Alison Elliot's Presentation
Presentation on faith-based social innovation given by Alison Elliot in the Scottish Parliament on 26 June 2006.
Date: 14 Aug 2006 Size: 1.1MB
Report of Alison Elliot seminar 27 June 2006
Report of the seminar held to discuss Alison Elliot's presentation on 'the spirit of social innovation' in the Scottish Parliament on 26 June.
Date: 14 Aug 2006 Size: 370kB
Report of Geoff Mulgan seminar 3 March 2006
Report of the seminar held on 3 March to discuss Geoff Mulgan's lecture the previous evening in the Scottish Parliament.
Date: 14 Aug 2006 Size: 47kB
Report of Irene McAra-McWilliam Seminar 8 December 2006
A record of the seminar with Prof Irene McAra-McWilliam, head of design at Glasgow School of Art, following her lecture in Edinburgh on 7 December.
Date: 20 Dec 2006 Size: 151kB
The Spirit of Social Innovation
Alison Elliot's lecture in the Scottish Parliament, 26 June 2006. Sets out the faith-based approach to social innovation.
Date: 28 Aug 2006 Size: 359kB