SIX speaks with Roshan Paul, CEO of Amani Institute in Nairobi about the skills that innovators need to succeed and their course on Social Innovation Management. SIX is working with Amani Institute to host our upcoming event 'What makes a city a 'hub' for innovation?' in Nairobi from May 27-29, 2015.
1. What's the impact of your Social Innovation Management Postgraduate Certificate Program?
We look at impact in terms of testimonials from our Fellows, testimonials from their employers after they leave the program, and also what the social innovation education ecosystem as a whole is approaching us to do. Each of these three steps builds on the other - at least in theory. To date, we are really satisfied with Fellow testimonials and you can read some of them here. With regard to employers, we now have a set of 50+ employer partners and several of our alumni have found positions with some of them. A couple even became C-level employees upon being done with their Amani program. Finally, at the ecosystem level we are making partnerships with several other institutions such as the United Nations-mandated University for Peace, whereby Amani Fellows can get a diploma in social innovation after their graduation from Amani by completing two additional online courses there. We are also working on partnerships with universities in the USA and Brazil around building curriculum for existing or new master's degree programs.
As with all higher education, the impact is both longer-term and hard to put into a cause-effect metric. Although these are still early days, we are making quiet progress, brick by brick.
2. What skills do you think innovators need to succeed?
From our research into what employers are looking for, we boiled it down to a) 4 overall skills - Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Creativity/Problem Solving, and Communication, b) getting actual experience in the field, and c) a deeper understanding of yourself and how to align your purpose with what the world needs you to do. We break down the four overall skills into further topics such as storytelling, working with local communities, design thinking, learning from nature, and so on. We also make sure our Fellows get tangible hands-on experience in their field of professional interest. And we have an entire curriculum dedicated to diving deeper into oneself and truly understanding the "inner journey" required to make change happen over the long term.
3. If you could change one education policy around the world, what would it be?
I would end the divorce between head and hands. Adults learn by actually doing things, not by reading and writing (which is the core activity of higher educational institutions). After 'doing', you've got to get feedback, reflect, and then try again. I firmly believe the life of the mind and real life must be brought together in our educational system, and not be split apart as they have been for centuries. And I believe its very much possible - but it does require a restructuring of university as we know it.
Applications are open NOW for Amani Institute's Social Innovation Management Postgraduate Certificate Program in Nairobi (Kenya) or Sao Paulo (Brazil)
This impactful, field-based program brings together a group of competitively selected, highly talented individuals from around the world who all share a passion for social change. Over 10 months (6 months online, 4 months field immersion), you will train at the depth and pace necessary to succeed in this field – the intensity is equivalent to a 2-year traditional master’s degree – while exploring a city with a thriving innovation and entrepreneurship culture.
The deadline for registration is 1st June- however, applications will close when all the spots are filled, bit.ly/amani_2015!