In this episode of the Social Innovation podcast is an energizing conversation between Courtney Savie Lawrence and Michael Waitze. Courtney, originally from Nashville, Tennessee, arrived in Asia seven years ago with the perspective “the world is so much bigger than our own bubble.” After co-founding a social enterprise in the US, she was recruited to develop a Global Studies program at a university in Hiroshima. After a few years in Japan, Courtney followed her now-husband to Bangkok, where she teaches at the School of Global Studies at Thammasat University in Bangkok and facilities workshops and training on design thinking and social innovation. She describes Bangkok as one of her favorite places and “a dynamic city of innovation and change in the region.”
For Courtney, social innovation is about “thinking really creatively about in fresh ways that are going to be disruptive in terms of changing the status quo and meeting the global challenges that are unprecedented.” To Courtney, it is much more than a step-by-step process. It should be seen as shifting and changing mindsets.
She reminds us that it’s easy to surround yourself with people drinking the same kool-aid. In an indication of reflexive-turn, Courtney argues that conscious capitalism and bottom-up market-based solutions might be too limiting. Policy-based and political solutions are also crucial to lasting change and addressing some of the most pressing issues such as the growing socioeconomic divides.
Reflecting on the happenings in her home country and the latest mid-term elections, Michael and Courtney discuss the role of anger as a catalyst for change. It’s clear that Courtney doesn’t have time for cynism. She explains, “I am going to consciously embrace all that is chaotic and crazy, and let it stir me intellectually and feed the fire of what is possible in a positive way.”
It is an approach to life and problem-solving that Courtney brings to her teaching and the facilitation of the workshops. She is “blow away by the agency and creativity” of her students at Thammasat University. In the third iteration of her course on design thinking and social innovation, Courtney has her students acting as consultants for real-world clients and in the process of learning how to manage expectations and maintain motivation through long and arduous projects. One thing she wants them to learn is a failure is okay. More important is what you do with failure and how you learn from it.
Learn more about Courtney’s work or reach out to her through her website here.