Undergraduate Courses in Social Impact

Undergraduate Berkeley Haas majors can focus on social sector leadership by taking Center for Social Sector Leadership classes. Cal students in other majors can also enroll in these classes, space permitting.

Undergraduate Courses


Leading Nonprofits and Social Enterprises

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the basic business workings of nonprofit organizations—the economic, social and political environment in which they operate, strengths, opportunities, and challenges within the nonprofit sector, and major functional areas, jobs, and volunteer opportunities in nonprofit organizations. This course introduces students to the major functional areas of non‐profit organizations and emerging research about strategies and practices of high‐performing non‐profit organizations.

Instructor: Ben Mangan (Spring)

Cal Strategic Philanthropy: Real Money, Real Impact

Based on an award-winning curriculum developed by UC Berkeley undergraduates (Bears Breaking Boundaries Innovation Award 2009), the course teaches participants how to be effective philanthropists. The class contributes $10,000 to nonprofit(s) selected by the class. To prepare for the contribution, students engage in interactive exercises and discussions to determine how to best expend the funds for maximum impact, guided by the instructors and renowned guests offering a variety of perspectives and frameworks. Students form teams to research and indentify, perform due diligence, and recommend nonprofit organizations. The $10,000 contribution is a generous gift of the Learning by Giving Foundation. A second component of the course is the class’s creation of a symposium on effective philanthropy for the broader UC Berkeley undergraduate community.

Instructors: Colin Lacon and Kim Wright-Violich

Social Enterprise & Entrepreneurship

This course explores the idea and practice of social entrepreneurship, an emerging field where business models are increasingly being used to address important unmet social and environmental needs. The course exposes students to the growing breadth and depth of activity in the global social enterprise movement, where innovators are developing a new frontier of hybrid organizations that combine nonprofit motives and business methods. Course content examines the context and foundation for social entrepreneurship and explores the opportunity for social enterprise solutions in a number of areas, including healthcare, finance, education, technology, international development, and workforce development. Course design integrates instructor lecture, articles/cases/other reading materials, class discussion, guest speakers, and group projects where students develop a social enterprise business plan.

Instructor: Cleveland Justis (Fall)

Applied Impact Evaluation

Business strategies and public policies are intended to change outcomes such as raising incomes, increasing productivity, improving learning, or reducing illness. Whether or not these changes in outcomes are actually achieved are crucial public policy and business questions, yet are not often examined. This course covers the methods and applications of impact evaluations, which is the science of measuring the causal impact of a strategy, program or policy. Applications are drawn from wide range developing and developed country settings.

Instructor: Paul Gertler (Spring)

Cross-Cultural Philanthropy

This class will anchor students in the structures and practice of American Philanthropy, and compare and contrast the variety of gift giving and sharing traditions that make up American philanthropy. Both the cultural antecedents and their expression in this country will be explored from five ethnic and racial groups: Native American, European American, African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American, The role of religion and gender will also be explored. The goal is to gain a greater understanding of the many dimensions of philanthropy as it is practiced in the United States today. Our goal is to have students understand that at its core, philanthropy is about having a perspective and being able to bring the rich understanding and experience of values to the practice of giving. The course is designed for students to be exposed to differing traditions of giving and the ways in which cultural experiences and perspectives drive values and action.

Instructor: Colin Lacon and Karina Moreno

Strategic Approaches for Global Social Impact

The role of strategic thinking in order to achieve social impact is becoming increasingly critical: how to design effective solutions to the world’s most pressing problems; how to ensure demand-driven sustainability; and how to measure the social return on investment? Entrepreneurs, venture capital funds, NGOs, foundations and corporations are all increasingly turning to business-driven approaches to achieve their social impact objectives. In that context, this course aims to:

  1. help students understand the analytical and strategic questions underlying important issues in global health, economic development, education and post-conflict recovery, and
  2. develop and examine effective (and whenever appropriate, market-based) solutions to these issues, with an eye towards replicability, scalability, sustainability, and catalytic effect.

The course will be project-focused, with teams selecting an issue of interest, developing a rigorous business case for their approach, and working with field experts to stress-test their ideas.

Instructor: Shashi Buluswar (Fall)

Microfinance Decal

Students gain a broad, objective overview of the field, including the history and context, successes and failures, and key domestic and international players. The course is a mixture of guest speakers, lectures, and media.

Instructor: Cal Student Leaders