Insights for Action: The Systems Work of Social Change

12th November 2021 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
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Book Talk
The Systems Work of Social Change: How to Harness Connection, Context, and Power to Cultivate Deep and Enduring Change

About this event
Book Talk: The Systems Work of Social Change: How to Harness Connection, Context, and Power to Cultivate Deep and Enduring Change

The Skoll Centre Insights for Action seminar series explores how researchers and practitioners within and beyond Oxford are using research insights for impact. Join us to hear conversations between researchers and practitioners who are working across disciplines, sectors, and media to understand and create more equitable and just social, economic, environmental and health systems.

In this seminar, Dr François Bonnici and Cynthia Raynor will discuss their book The Systems Work of Social Change with Professor Paulo Savaget and Sheela Patel, reflecting on what a 200 year history of social change-making tells us about how organisations, funders and policymakers create systemic social change.

We are delighted to be collaborating with the Oxford Executive MBA Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford (GOTO) programme on this seminar.

Dr François Bonnici is a public health physician, professor, social change practitioner and foundation leader. His career is rooted in front-line medical and humanitarian practice and has evolved to advance social change work more broadly. He currently serves as Director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and Head of Social Innovation at the World Economic Forum. He was previously founding Director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation at the University of Cape Town, where he is Adjunct Associate Professor. He has been recognized as an Archbishop Tutu African Leadership Fellow, Rhodes Scholar, and Associate Fellow of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, and recently served as founding board member of the Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education. François attained his medical degree from the University of Cape Town, MBA from the University of Oxford, and MSc from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He divides his time between Cape Town and Geneva.

Sheela Patel is the founding director of the Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), an NGO that has been working since 1984 to support community organisations of the urban poor in their efforts to access secure housing and basic amenities, and seek their right to the city. Patel is widely recognised – nationally and internationally – for seeking urgent attention to the issues of urban poverty, housing and infrastructure onto the radar of governments, bilateral and international agencies, foundations and other organisations. She is a founder amongst many of Slum Dwellers International, a transnational social movement of the urban poor, whose board she previously chaired.

Cynthia Rayner is a researcher, writer, and lecturer affiliated with the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business. Her research focuses on how organizations and communities work to shape social systems in collective ways. Cynthia’s work in social change began when, as a recovering management consultant, she joined the LGT Impact Fellowship which brought her to South Africa for more than a decade. She has served in several organizations, including Generation Ubuntu, an afterschool program educating children in Cape Town; mothers2mothers, an African social enterprise employing women to guide other women to good health; and the Starfish Greathearts Foundation, a nonprofit supporting children and families in South Africa. Cynthia holds a BA from Georgetown University and an MBA from INSEAD. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Professor Paulo Savaget is an Associate Professor of Engineering at Saïd Business School and the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford. He is an expert in entrepreneurship, sustainable development, systems change, and innovation management. The emphasis of his work is on transforming unjust systems through entrepreneurship. He formerly served as Postdoctoral Researcher at the Skoll Centre and as an Assistant Professor at Durham University. Outside academia, he worked as an entrepreneur and as a consultant to large companies, governments, and intergovernmental organisations. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, as a Gates Scholar.

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This will be a hybrid event. SBS students, staff and faculty may register to join the session in person in Oxford, and external audiences may register to join virtually.

For those who do join in person, we are delighted to be able to welcome audiences back into our building, and we strongly encourage the use of face coverings at all times while you are attending our events (when seated and moving around the building). You must not attend this event if you have received a positive Covid-19 test result or are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms. If you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 or is experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, please follow current government guidance on testing and isolation according to your circumstances.

Please find more information about the School’s COVID response here:


12th November 2021
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
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Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
+44 (0)1865 288838
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