PACS news/February 7, 2021
The 9th annual China-based Social Innovation Summit, hosted by Stanford PACS and the Leping Foundation, took place in November 2020, focused on the central theme of “New Connectivity Creating New Momentum.” The Summit’s programming explored three specific pathways to impact in the post-pandemic world: Making Business for Good the New Normal, Digital Technology for Human Benefit, and New Power & New Leadership. The 2020 Social Innovation Summit brought together 80 speakers in 14 forums over three days. Attendees learned and engaged with scholars, founders, nonprofit and business leaders from the US, China, and Europe. Speakers included Roy Bahat, Matt Bannick, Wayne Chen, Jay Coen Gilbert, Le Geng, Tristan Harris, Jeremy Heimans, Rebecca Henderson, Victor Koo, Mark Kramer, Xin Liu, Hui Qin, Christian Seelos, Peng Shen, Yanan Shen, David Siegel, Henry Timms, Ge Wang, among others. For the full agenda, click here.
Stanford PACS launched the Social Innovation Summit in China in 2012 to advance and improve philanthropy and social innovation in the social sector in China. The Social Innovation Summit provides a unique opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices in strategic philanthropy, nonprofit management, and social innovation among practitioners and thought leaders in Asia and worldwide.
The major themes of the 2020 Summit were selected to reflect the needs and interests of the philanthropic community in China. In addition to government, business plays an important role in China’s highly regulated social sector, where market-based solutions to social problems are emphasized. For self-made founders who hold the majority of the newly created wealth in China, pursuing ways to integrate their business and philanthropic interests is vital. And Chinese technology companies play a significant role in social innovation and digital philanthropy, fostering interest in interdisciplinary research and new approaches to social change.
As Stanford PACS and the Leping Foundation look ahead to our 10th annual conference in 2021, the idea of renewed constructive engagement between civil society leaders and those working to create impact in various social and environmental issues in the US, China, and the rest of the world is more necessary and urgent than ever before. It will take increased global communication and understanding to confront global challenges that range from the pandemic and climate change, to global health and extreme poverty, to unchecked technological development. Spaces like the Social Innovation Summit, where social change agents, scholars, and business leaders can gather to share robust cross-cultural dialogue and explore aligned goals, are of critical importance.
“This event’s significance is [also] in that it has served as a spiritual community building among like-minded changemakers in China,” says Jaff Shen, CEO of the Leping Foundation, and the publisher of the Chinese edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Participants in China would appear to agree. Over 2,100 registered participants attended the event, with the average participant spending over 4 hours watching and engaging with sessions. Close to half of the summit attendants were from the business sector (the major source of philanthropic investment in China), with approximately one-third coming from nonprofits and public service, and 7% from academia (an increase over prior years).
The following sections highlight sessions of interest to audiences in the U.S. For content specifically relevant to our China audience, please visit this link.
The virtual fireside chat “Digital Technology for Human Benefit: Nurturing Ethical Technology” featured David Siegel, chairman of the Siegel Family Endowment and an advisory board member at Stanford PACS, and Tristan Harris, co-founder and president of the Center for Humane Technology. The discussion moderator was Ge Wang, Associate Professor at Stanford University’s CCRMA and author of “Artful Design: Technology in Search of the Sublime.”
What does it mean for technology to be ethical? What can be done on an individual and systems level to make technology work for human benefit? What is the unique role of philanthropy in these efforts? In this session, the discussants explored the intersection of technology, ethics, and social impact through various lenses.
In this keynote presentation, co-director of the Stanford PACS Global Innovation for Impact Lab Christian Seelos shared his thoughts on smart social innovation from an organizational and systemic lens. Seelos was joined by local panelists, Xingzui Wang, executive vice president of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA), a Beijing based international NGO, Wayne Chen (moderator), a professor of practice at Peking University HSBC Business School, and Jane Jiang, associate professor at Nanjing University and organizational behavior and corporate social innovation expert.
The Chinese have long held innovation up as a holy grail – key to China’s future growth and its best chance to catch up with more developed countries. But can technology innovation be sustained without conscious social innovation? And what does smart social innovation look like in a Chinese context?
The session aimed to lay out a clear theoretical framework for successful social innovation, illustrated with examples from practice. Watch the workshop discussion following the keynote here.