Social innovation: from research to practice or vice-versa?

A dialogue between Johannes Gorbach (Social City Vienna) & Frank Moulaert (KU Leuven).

What is social innovation and what role does it play in everyday neighbourhood life? On Thursday May 19th, 2022, 4Cities students learned and discussed about social innovation with Frank Moulaert (KU Leuven) and Johannes Gorbach (Social City Vienna). The dialogue was embedded within the course on “Socio-Spatial Urban Diversity” led by Yvonne Franz.

An interesting and enlightening presentation by Frank Moulaert (KU Leuven) brought students back in touch with the classical concept of innovation, the one that arose without being related to technology, that went hand in hand with social transformation, that emerged from a cultural change and even from activism. His lecture was peculiarly linked to ‘being conservative’. This notion builds on the importance of conserving human values, on the inclusion of all voices and perspectives, on the preservation and re-discovering as well as re-imagining practices in social innovation processes.

Johannes Gorbach (Social City Vienna) took students on a journey into the practice field by presenting insights on how Vienna deals with social innovation projects. He highlighted the relevance of social inclusion and nurturing practices in order to actively improve living together as a society. Johannes explained the importance of having a theoretical foundation behind projects, encouraging students to include a definition process for dimensions like social value, well-being, social needs, impact and mission. Looking at the Social Innovation Research Unit (SIRU), key elements for prototyping programs where explained, as well as the value placed on structuring these elements in a way that responds uniquely to a particular project.

For more information, see:
Frank Moulaert, KU Leuven:
Johannes Gorbach, Social City Vienna:

Text: Anahi Montalvo Rojo, 2022.