Dees came to Stanford from the Harvard Business School, where he helped to launch the Initiative on Social Enterprise. From January of 1997 until June of 1998, Dees was Director of Entrepreneurship at the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Berea, Kentucky, where he found new ways to promote the business development of Central Appalachia.
Dees guided Stanford's business school and the university into the areas of social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, and philanthropy, with the additional benefit of attracting new students who might not have been drawn to more traditional service courses. Before leaving to accept an appointment as Adjunct Professor of Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit Management at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Dees worked to institutionalize the changes he made:
Developing new undergraduate courses, which have become required or elective courses for some majors. Social Entrepreneurship, developed with Professor Shirley Heath; Business Skills for the Social Sector; as a side benefit, the undergraduate students who took these courses have formed a student organization on social entrepreneurship.
Developing a Law School seminar. Nonprofit Law, Economics, and Strategy, with Professor Mike Klausner.
Developing courses at the Graduate School of Business. MBA course on Social Entrepreneurship; and an executive program for professional philanthropists, High-Impact Philanthropy.
Engaging in related academic activities. Speaker for student events on campus, producing new case studies and course materials on social entrepreneurship and philanthropy, and serving as an advisor to several undergraduate students.
Establishing the Center for Social Innovation. CSIÑwith Professors David Brady and Dan Kessler, based at the GSB and designed to involve faculty and other programs from around the university, including the Haas Center. CSI has funded several research projects, sponsored or co-sponsored a number of conferences, created web-based resource directories for philanthropists and social entrepreneurs, supported case writing activities, and developed new executive programs.
Engaging with external organizations. Impact beyond Stanford as a visible and active participant in the public dialogue about the nonprofit sector and philanthropy.
Researching, writing, and publishing. Produced six new teaching cases in support of courses; published a book 2001, Enterprising Nonprofits: A Toolkit for Social Entrepreneurs (John Wiley & Sons, 2001), with Jed Emerson and Peter Economy; launched a major research project about strategies for spreading the benefits of successful social programs from one community to others.
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