Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Organizational Studies

Reader 1

Jeffrey Lewis

Reader 2

Scott Sherman

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Rights Information

© 2017 Tia H Ho


The literature presented in the following pages explores the shortcomings of the American public education system in the context of creating long-term, sustainable social change. Using financial illiteracy and its relationship to low quality of life as an entry point, the first section exposes public schools’ shortcomings as agents of social change by delving into the hardships endured by the original public school promoters of the 19th century, the pitfalls of President George W. Bush’s 2001 enactment of No Child Left Behind, and the shortcomings of the financial literacy programming that found traction in urban schools following the subprime lending crisis. These examples render the public education system unfit to address social change, at which point the paper segues into a discussion of social enterprise and the new field’s demonstrated potential to capture social value.

After a brief historical exploration of social innovation which examines some values and principles of this “fourth sector,” successful ventures and failed social organizations are scrutinized in the penultimate chapter. The comparisons made ultimately argue in favor of social entrepreneurship’s fitness, on both a structural and ideological level, in addressing the complex social, environmental, and cultural issues of our time.