Centers & Institutes

  • Center for Social Innovation

    At the Center for Social Innovation at Worcester State University, we seek to create a culture of social innovation that tackles deep-rooted social problems. Through education, we create inventive pathways that help you and other future leaders direct this emergent passionate force toward solving entrenched social problems. Through community engagement, we create platforms of systematic study that address social problems and achieve cross-sector solutions.

    We envision a world where citizens, organizations, and institutions consciously and continuously work to create a more desirable future for the common good. We promote a world in which we all work more closely together to create a sustainable and values-based future for our cities, states, and nations. Our programming includes guest speakers and courses and workshops for students and social entrepreneurs. We also develop internships and service-learning opportunities that enable you to work on social issues in innovative ways.

    Who We Are
    We share leadership of the center with an advisory body and a variety of affiliated faculty, associates, fellows, and organizational partners.
  • Co-Directors
    Mathew Johnsen, Ph.D., is an associate professor and chair of the Worcester State University Sociology Department. Prior to his academic career, Johnsen directed several organizations that provided services to persons with developmental disabilities, including ARC/MA and ARC/NC. He also has significant research experience and has evaluated the effectiveness of a range of different programs. He holds a master’s degree in human services administration and a doctorate in sociology, with a concentration in work, industry, and organizations. Johnsen has worked with many non-profit organizations as an executive director, board member, or officer and has assisted in founding several nonprofit organizations.

    James Harrity, M.S., Ed.D., is an educational consultant and researcher. At present, he serves as president of Morsel of Clay, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to educational excellence with equity and advocacy for a community-based model for school improvement. He also has worked as a builder and a real estate developer.
    Affiliate Faculty
    • Pat Donavan
    • Amy Ebbeson, M.S.W. (Public Health, Next Step Program coordinator)
    • Anne W. Gathuo M.B.A., M.S., Ph.D. (Urban Studies, Nonprofit Management)
    • Miriam Plavin Masterman M.B.A., Ph.D. (Business)
    • Rodney Oudan, M.M., D.B.A. (Business/Marketing)
    • Advisory board—12-person board (in development) that will include community leaders, activists, representatives from the City of Worcester, internationally recognized social entrepreneurs, and representatives from the Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts.
    • Associates—faculty or community partners with an interest in this area who agree to work on one or more of the center’s projects over the course of a year.
    •  Fellows—individuals at the graduate or post-doctoral level with an interest in social entrepreneurship who use the center’s resources as the basis of their continuing research interests.
    • Interns—undergraduate students who provide directed research assistance for one or more projects under the director or an associate.
    • Community partners—organizations interested in partnering with, receiving assistance from, or providing help to the center. Community partner activities could include ongoing educational opportunities, research, and the development of case studies.