Professor of Practice and Associate Director, Social Innovation

Professor of Practice and Associate Director, Social Innovation

New Orleans, LA
Open Date:
Nov 7, 2022

The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking seeks qualified candidates to serve as a Professor of Practice and the Associate Director of Social Innovation. The Professor of Practice position resides in the Taylor Center as a renewable 3-year term; additional information on faculty appointments can be found in the Faculty Handbook. The position will start as early as May 2023 and no later than August 2023, and the salary will be commensurate with credentials and experience. 

Located in New Orleans, Louisiana, Tulane University is a tier-one research university and member of the American Association of Universities (AAU) in the United States. The key initiatives established by President Mike Fitts include: enhancing the student experience, honoring and advancing diversity, promoting pioneering research, and ensuring financial stability. Tulane University has ten colleges and schools: Newcomb-Tulane College, School of Architecture, A. B. Freeman School of Business, School of Law, School of Liberal Arts, School of Medicine, School of Professional Advancement, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, School of Science and Engineering, and School of Social Work. The Taylor Center is one of several university-wide, cross-disciplinary centers that collaborates across schools and units. 

Founded in 2014, The Taylor Center cultivates a diverse network of changemakers who are working and learning together to create a more just and equitable society. Its programs are grounded in the teaching, research, and practice of social innovation and design thinking. Offerings include: 

  • TEACHING: Taylor faculty and staff teach or support courses in social innovation, design thinking, changemaking, and life design for undergraduate and graduate students across a variety of academic disciplines/programs. Taylor also offers training and coaching for staff and faculty outside the center looking to integrate social innovation approaches and human-centered design into their courses.  

  • RESEARCH: Taylor supports research and scholarship on social innovation topics and issues through programs and funding opportunities. Taylor faculty and staff also develop original research and scholarship in the field. 

  • PRACTICE: Taylor offers a variety of programs open to students, staff, faculty, and community members in social innovation, human-centered design, and changemaking. Taylor also offers funding for undergraduate and graduate students to develop skills in these areas. 

Taylor’s mission aligns with Tulane University’s designation as an Ashoka “Changemaker Campus.” The center engages Tulane constituents, New Orleans residents, and the global community in the movement toward “everyone a changemaker.” The following values guide the work of the Center: 

  • RESPECT: We are committed to equity and recognize humility and empathy as cornerstones of effective and ethical engagement with others.  

  • CONNECTION: We see innovation as a social act that is grounded in the relationships between people across difference. 

  • LEARNING: We practice persistent curiosity and recognize that everyone has knowledge to gain and share. 

  • CREATIVITY: We are committed to being open and at times uncomfortable as we seek out the unexpected in imagining a better world. 


Social Innovation 
Although social innovation is not a historically new phenomenon and faces many relevant critiques and challenges, changemakers will continue to generate novel and relevant new ideas to generate social value. While Taylor acknowledges classic definitions of the field (e.g. Phills, Miller, and Deiglemeier, 2008; Mulgan, 2019), the center identifies with scholars that define social innovation as a process that draws on the social capacity of interconnected networks to produce innovations that further results in a stronger social capacity to act (e.g., Manzini, 2014; Moulaert and MacCallum, 2019).   

Taylor Center scholars have identified a variety of approaches to social innovation that draw from different traditions, including classic western liberal philosophies of social entrepreneurship, critical theories of social change, and newer ecological paradigms to suit the the nature of challenges in the 21st century (Murphy, Schoop, Faughnan, and Flattley, 2021). The Taylor Center aims to practice critical and ecological approaches that acknowledge complexity and foster empowerment.  

Since 2009, social innovation programming at Tulane University has supported dozens of student-led social ventures, explored a range of changemaking learning pathways, offered public lectures by leading social innovators, expanded knowledge production and dissemination, forged unique community partnerships, and developed courses, course sequences, and other curricular initiatives. This work continues to evolve at the Taylor Center.  

Design Thinking 
One way of engaging and promoting systems change is through design thinking (DT): a creative, collaborative approach to addressing complex societal problems that is sometimes referred to as human-centered design (; Stanford Related schools of thought and design practices we embrace include participatory design, co-design, equity-centered community design (Creative Reaction Lab), emancipatory design (Noel, 2016), and design justice. Social impact is a priority in all approaches to design thinking used by the Taylor Center, and design thinking for social impact (DTSI) is seen as an essential part of any changemaker’s toolkit. 

Taylor Center faculty have integrated “DTSI” approaches into courses, workshops, trainings, conference panels, and other community-building activities since 2013. There has been steady interest on campus and in the center’s local and global communities of alumni, faculty, staff, and community partners. The Taylor Center will continue to apply and extend design-led approaches to understand and contribute to addressing complex societal problems. 

Position Purpose:   

  • Design, facilitate, and support social innovation (SI) programming and learning opportunities (e.g., courses, workshops, materials) for diverse audiences, to include capacity-building that supports the integration of SI mindsets throughout the Taylor Center, Tulane’s campus, and with community partners  

  • Engage in scholarship and field leadership in social innovation and related fields 

  • Co-create an SI strategy that aligns with the Taylor Center’s mission and values; work collaboratively with students, staff, and faculty to implement the strategy; and manage administrative tasks as required. 


Required Education and Experience: 

  • Master’s degree in a related/relevant field (e.g., social sciences, education, or other relevant disciplines) 

  • Experience in applying social innovation concepts (e.g., systems change, social enterprise development, design thinking) 

  • Experience facilitating learning activities in an educational setting  

Required Knowledge, skills, abilities/competencies typically needed to perform this job successfully:  

  • Familiarity with common SI and related schools of thought, models, training formats, materials, and curricula 

  • Ability to communicate effectively to diverse audiences in community-based organizations and higher education settings 

  • Experience with equity, diversity, and inclusion theory and practice 

  • Ability to take direction, manage projects, manage others, and participate on diverse cross-functional teams as needed 

Preferred Qualifications: 

  • Doctoral degree in a relevant academic discipline (e.g., social sciences, education, or other relevant disciplines), especially with a strong focus on social innovation, systems thinking, or other social impact approaches within the doctoral training and/or research 

  • University teaching experience (undergraduate or graduate student) 

  • Involvement in social innovation work and practice (academic, professional, or other) 

  • Familiarity with design thinking, human-centered design, or other design fields 

  • Proficiency in collaborative, creative problem-solving techniques 

  • Ability to integrate social innovation methodology with other methodologies used in mission-driven work (dialogue processes, participatory engagement, systems practice, design thinking, etc.)  

Application Instructions:

To be considered for the position, please submit the following through Interfolio.  

  1. Current curriculum vitae 

  1. Letter of Interest explaining your fit and interest in this position 

  1. Personal narrative describing your teaching & learning, research, and practice philosophy 

Applicants invited to interview will be asked to submit references along with a portfolio that highlights their teaching, practice, and research. 

The selection committee will begin reviewing applications in January 2023.  

Reports to: Taylor Center Director of Strategy and Engagement

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement:

Please Note: Tulane University has officially adopted a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. All employees and visiting faculty must be fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccination or obtain approval for a medical or religious exemption prior to beginning employment.

Tulane University is located in New Orleans - a city with tremendous history of diverse cultures, community, and languages. Tulane is actively building a campus culture grounded in our values of EDI and anti-racism. We seek and welcome candidate applications from historically underrepresented groups, such as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), women, LGBTQ+, and those living with disabilities as well as veterans. 

Tulane University is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action institution committed to excellence through diversity. Tulane University will not discriminate based upon race, ethnicity, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, marital status, military or veteran status, or any other status or classification protected by federal, state, or local law. All eligible candidates are encouraged to apply.

Get job alerts

Create a job alert and receive personalized job recommendations straight to your inbox.

Create alert