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The School of Social Innovation

Are you looking to make a difference in your community and the world? Are you interested in developing the skills and network necessary to do so?

The School of Social Innovation (SoSI) is a partnership between Citizen Circles and P2PU to help small groups who want to create their own courses on social innovation and share them openly with the world.

SoSI courses are based on peer-created syllabi, peer-to-peer teaching and learning, and local discussion groups and project-learning teams called citizen circles, which is a format for friends, classmates, and colleagues to work together to improve their own knowledge, confidence, skills, and competencies for change-making, inspired by the century-old model of the study circle.

SoSI courses generally run on a semesterly schedule along with all P2PU courses, with the next semester starting January 26th, 2011, but we are happy to accomodate courses that wish to start at any other time on a case-by-case basis.  We are accepting proposals for courses from April and beyond at

Course list

P2PU has moved to a new home - please go to to see our current courses. If you want to see what courses were previously run on this site, here's a selection of completed courses:
Course Name Organiser Course Status
Conflict ResolutionThis citizen circle will introduce participants to conflict resolution theory and practices.Show more details
Go to the course page

This citizen circle will introduce participants to the root causes of conflict and the ways in which conflicts develop, as well as several methods for conflict resolution. The program will provide participants with the skills and knowledge necessary to understand the nature of conflict and to develop skills for conflict resolution.

During the course, participants will keep a journal or blog in which they will respond to weekly prompts as well as personal thoughts, reflections, and ideas in relation to the course.

Course dialogue will be based on readings and videos, all of which will be available online. The current syllabus includes an introduction to conflict theory, and mainly focuses on skills and practices for conflict resolution including nonviolent communication, mediation, dialogue, and nonviolent action, as well as ethics and "best practices" for conflict resolution. The syllabus is highly flexible and can be changed in order to better meet participants' needs - suggestions and input are both welcomed and encouraged!

Emily Miller
Emily Miller's picture
Local Open Govt. InnovationHow to bring transparency, public participation, and collaboration to your local government. This is an international course!Show more details
Go to the course page

The purpose of this international course is to empower emerging and established leaders who want to improve their local government.  We are building on the momentum generated by the US Open Government Initiative to bring transparency, participation, and collaboration to all levels of government.

Participants in this course will learn how to grow the open government community in their part of the world.  Participants will be sharing knowledge, challenges, and solutions in order to hold 100+ Local Open Government Innovation Summits across the US and abroad in May 2011.

This course has evolved and now we are moving forward only if we have a critical mass of 100 organizers step forward to hold a local summit:

Lucas Cioffi
Lucas Cioffi's picture
Women as Social InnovatorsWhat are the unique strengths and challenges that women face as social innovators?Show more details
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This citizen circle will serve as an opportunity for participants to explore the unique strengths and challenges that women face as social entrepreneurs and innovators.

Citizen circles are small, peer-to-peer study groups that develop core skills of social innovation through co-created curricula. Women as Social Entepreneurs is part of the P2PU/Citizen Circles School of Social Innovation (SoSI). Participants are expected to form a small local group to meet face-to-face as well as connect to groups in other locations online.

Throughout the course, participants will keep a field journal, recording reflections and thoughts from all activities. This field journal will be used as a resource in creating a personal monologue as well as a way of tracking the development of key competencies such as empathy, passion, optimism and others.

Discussions will be based on videos, readings and conversations with various female innovators who will serve as guest speakers or facilitators. Although we have built up a bank of possible topics and resources, this is a peer-led collaborative course and the actual syllabus and topics will be based on participant interests and input. We are open to re-envisioning the current syllabus if it does not meet the needs of the participants.

Please contact Julie or Laura if you have any questions or would like to learn more.

Julie Bowes
Julie Bowes's picture
Education Politics in AmericaLearn about education politics and how to navigate your own investigations in the subject matter! Show more details
Go to the course page

We will learn about the current state and the current players in education politics through discussion and research.  Students will learn about current issues and examine them from multiple perspectives and will consider their own education beliefs and relate them to modern American education politics.  The class will depend on the research of the students, with extra information and guidance coming from classmates and the facilitator! 

There will be 5 classes, each lasting approximately an hour.    Students will be expected to do research outside of class time. 

Emily C
Emily C's picture
Sustainability StudioCreate a local project with support from your peers and guest speakers - and get recognition for your impact! Show more details
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Sustainability Studio is a project-based course where you'll make a difference locally with a small group that focuses on one of the core environmental, social or economic aspects of sustainability. Along the way, you'll build your knowledge and skills, have support from peers in Sustainability Studio, hear from guest speakers and share the story of what you're doing.

We're using a core competency framework developed at Michigan State University to structure our projects and evaluate what we've learned. This is not an MSU course, we're just using the framework to organize our work. The competencies were developed around eight areas that most believe demonstrate knowledge and skill in sustainability: personal development, critical thinking, systems thinking, social justice, civic engagement, economic vitality, ecological integrity and aesthetics.  

This is a Citizen Circles/P2PU School of Social Innovation course, and has a couple of unique features. First, this course is centered around small offline groups. If you want to participate in the course, it is your responsibility to find two other people from your community to participate in the course with you. Second, in addition to joining the online meetings, your small group is expected to meet face-to-face throughout the course to engage offline activities as outlined in the syllabus.

The Citizen Circle process for Sustainability Studio is as follows:

  1. Recruit a couple of friends (2-4) in the same community as you to build and participate in the Sustainability Studio course with you.
  2. Decide which ONE of the eight sustainability domains you want to work on together. Most projects will cross over into other domains, but pick one as a primary focus.
  3. Define a project with guidance from the course organizer and co-facilitators (see the course syllabus and project ideas).
  4. Document and share your progress in Sustainability Studio.
  5. Learn from your peers and guest speakers in the Studio.
  6. Celebrate with feedback and recognition in the Studio Show during the last week.

."Never doubt that a small group of individuals can change the world, indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead

Sustainability Studio Weekly Schedule
#1       Jan 26- Feb 1                         Studio Opening: Introductions, inspiration, discussion of proposed projects
#2 Feb 2 - 8 Group project plans approved and work begins
#3 Feb 9 - 15 Work on projects
#4 Feb 16 - 22 Studio Guests: sharing by guest speakers
#5 Feb 23 - Mar 1   Work on projects
#6 Mar 2 - 9 Finalize projects
#7 Mar 10 - 16 Studio Show: Telling our stories, measuring our impact, celebrating success
Christine Geith
Christine Geith's picture