Covid-19 has been far more than a public health crisis. The ripple effect of the pandemic, and our uneven response to it, has triggered economic crisis, deepened inequalities, exploited our social fault lines, and left us all exhausted.

But there’s too much at stake for us to relent. In an age of pandemics, microbial and otherwise, there is no going back to the way things were. Covid-19 is a dress rehearsal for 21st century problems. As we build towards a recovery, we need to take bold steps to build a more equitable and more resilient society and a healthier planet. The future of, well, everything depends on it.

Social entrepreneurs have long recognised this. They tackle issues at their root cause. They are in the business of redefining what’s possible. They understand that deep change requires collective action, and that real change comes not from the top down, but from the community outward. Social entrepreneurs were made for this moment.

For nearly two decades the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford has invested in attracting, nurturing, and amplifying the leaders of our future. Since 2004 our Skoll Scholarship has helped more than 80 proven change makers complete the Oxford MBA. Our Scholars have gone on to exceptional accomplishment and have also nurtured a vibrant alumni network that remains the beating heart of the Skoll Centre.

As the Centre and the field of social entrepreneurship grew, increasing numbers of MBA students came to Oxford looking to build the skills needed in tackling social and environmental challenges. We started the Impact Lab in 2018 to meet this growing demand, and to address the shifting skills needed to drive change in an interconnected world. It was also a way for the Centre to reach and influence more talent across the University, not just its Skoll Scholars. The Impact Lab is a co-curricular program to support those Oxford MBA students who are committed to having an impact-driven career. And so fair, including this current term, we have been able to support nearly 130 students in their social impact journey.

Our ambitions are far greater. We’re working to redefine and mainstream social impact education, and do so equitably. And we wanted to start by looking back, to understanding how both the Scholarship and Impact Lab have impacted the personal and career trajectories of our alumni. So earlier this year, we commissioned Openwell to perform an in-depth impact study. Attributing impact is challenging under the best of circumstances, and we knew that evaluating the long-term impact of an educational program would have its limitations. But how can we teach our students about impact evaluation and walk the talk?

Read the full article about social entrepreneurship by Peter Drobac at Skoll Foundation.