‘How to Change the World’ Author Comes to UA to Meet Honors Students, University Community

David Bornstein
David Bornstein

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – What business entrepreneurs are to the economy, social entrepreneurs are to social change, says author David Bornstein. They are the driven, creative individuals who question the status quo, exploit new opportunities, refuse to give up – and remake the world for the better, Bornstein says in his latest book, “How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas” (Oxford University Press, 2003).

The Tuscaloosa community will have the chance to discuss some of these innovative ideas with the author when he comes to The University of Alabama campus Thursday, Sept. 30-Friday, Oct. 1. Bornstein will meet UA Honors College students who have been studying his book in the Common Book Experience honors course taught this semester by Dr. Marysia Galbraith.

Galbraith, assistant professor of New College and anthropology, says the one-hour UA honors class includes three seminars, one of which will be attended by Bornstein. In addition to meeting with students, Bornstein will give a talk open to the public on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 6 p.m. in Alston Hall Auditorium. He will also meet with West Alabama community leaders in a Roundtable Forum to discuss community concerns on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 1 p.m. in the Ferguson Center Anderson Room.

“I am excited to come to UA and speak to your honors students. There is no group that stands to benefit more from the emergence of the field of ‘social entrepreneurship’ than today’s university students,” Bornstein says.

“The changes that are occurring in the business and ‘citizen’ sectors are opening up a whole new landscape of career opportunities for young people — the ability to align your talents, interests and values doing work that is making a meaningful contribution to society and to people’s lives — and is deeply enjoyable.

“Those are the kinds of opportunities young people can find today,” Bornstein adds.

Bornstein is a journalist who specializes in writing about social innovation. His first book “The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank” was selected as a finalist for the New York Public Library Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Newsday, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and other publications worldwide. Bornstein co-wrote the two-hour PBS documentary “To Our Credit” that focused on micro-credit in five countries. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.

“The Common Book Experience provides incoming honors program students an opportunity to gain one hour of honors credit concentrating closely on an important and influential contemporary book under the tutelage of an outstanding professor,” says Dr. Robert Halli, dean of the UA Honors College.

UA students will be able to relate to Bornstein’s ideas about being social entrepreneurs, as well, Galbraith says. “I act as adviser for the New College Student Association, and students are always approaching me with ideas for community outreach projects they would like to initiate (two last year included collecting book donations to start a library in the community center of a rural community and sponsoring a lunch at the local Boys and Girls Club),” she relates.

“Many courses at the University include service learning components, including one of my seminars. Every year, at least a couple of students in the class call their service learning a transformative experience, and even change their majors and life goals because of it,” Galbraith notes.

“How to Change the World” shows ordinary people who are solving the world’s critical social problems. The extraordinary stories of social entrepreneurs in the book show a transformation that is going largely unreported, that worldwide, the fastest growing segment of society is the nonprofit sector. Although everybody has heard about the growth of the ‘dot coms,’ many have not heard the other big story, now told in this book — the worldwide explosions of ‘dot orgs’ with ordinary people stepping in to solve problems that governments and bureaucracies have been unable to address.

In “How to Change the World,” Bornstein profiles nine remarkable men and women, including American James Grant, director of UNICEF from 1980-1995, credited with saving the lives of 25 million children by orchestrating and marketing a global campaign for immunization; Veronica Khosa, founder of Tateni Home Care Nursing Services, who developed a home-based model for AIDS patients that changed government health policy in South Africa; J.B. Schramm, an American who founded College Summit and has helped thousands of high school students from low-income families enroll and succeed in college;

Fabio Rosa of Brazil who helped bring electricity to hundreds of thousands of remote rural residents; and Bill Drayton, former assistant administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection agency who created a pioneering foundation, Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, that has funded and supported social entrepreneurs.

Bornstein says by using determination and innovation even a single person can make an unforgettable difference.

A social entrepreneur is a person who has both a powerful idea to cause a positive social change and the creativity, skills, determination and drive to transform that idea into reality, Bornstein explains. “In the United States and across the globe, individuals today are far more aware of social problems and have far more power to address them,” he finds.

Bornstein said he chose the group of social entrepreneurs to feature in his book because “they span a range of countries and touch on a wide variety of issues – from education to health to environmental protection.

“The profiles capture all the details about how the entrepreneurs began (humbly) and how they proceeded, step by step, over the years, to pursue their visions on an ever increasing scale. My goal was to demystify their success — to show how seemingly ordinary people and ordinary efforts, over time, can produce extraordinary results.”

“This is a wonderfully hopeful and enlightening book,” Nelson Mandela said of “How to Change the World” in book review comments. “The stories of these social entrepreneurs will inspire and encourage many people who seek to build a better world.”

For more information on the book and author, visit the Web site www.thepowerofnewideas.com and contact the UA Honors College at 205/348-5500.


Linda Hill, UA Media Relations, 205/348-8325, lhill@ur.ua.edu


Dr. Fran Oneal, University Honors Program manager, 205/348-5554, foneal@bama.ua.edu