Professional Master of Arts in Social Innovation

Preparing graduate students to be change agents, leading cross-sector innovation throughout their organizations, businesses, and communities

Social innovation (SI) is an emerging professional field focused on impact-driven, cross-sector careers (e.g. governmental and non-profit work, socially-focused entrepreneurship, B Corps). Social innovation is engaged in addressing complex social problems such as: childhood hunger, illiteracy, domestic violence, air pollution, food deserts, contaminated drinking water, poverty, and homelessness.

The SI Program is housed in IRIS: The Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies Department. It is a signature GVSU Program and the only Social Innovation Program in Michigan. 

Want to learn more? Join us on Tuesday, September 24 at 5 p.m. in DEV 303C (Pew Campus) for an Information Session! 

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Advisory Council

Advisory Council Innovators, Leaders, and Visionaries

GVSU's graduate program in Social Innovation is advised by a committed group of individual drawn from across industry, non-profit, and government sectors.


The graduate program in Social Innovation is directed by Dr. Wendy Burns-Ardolino, a dynamic, nationally recognized leader and social innovator in higher education. Recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award (2018) from the Cultural Studies Program and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University, she currently chairs the Social Innovation External Advisory Board, a group of key West Michigan leaders committed to social innovation across for-profit, non-profit, and government sectors. 

A graduate and Associate Director-In-Residence with the the HERS Institute (Class of 2017, AD-In-Residence 2018), Dr. Burns-Ardolino served as a Provost Appointed Institutional Representative to the Michigan ACE Women's Network (2017-19) and has also held leadership positions within the GVSU Division of Inclusion & Equity (Faculty Associate, 2017-18), Executive Council of the Academic Senate (2012-18), Graduate Council (ongoing) and Graduate Education Task Force (2012). Recipient of the Glenn A. Niemeyer Award (2017) for excellence, enthusiasm and loyalty to teaching, scholarship and service, she also chaired the IRIS Department (then Liberal Studies) from 2011-2016. Prior to coming to GVSU, Dr. Burns-Ardolino directed the first interdisciplinary graduate program at Clayton State University (Atlanta, Georgia) in addition to directing the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at CSU.

She has published two books, including TV Female Foursomes & their Fans: Featuring the Golden Girls, Designing Women, Living Single, Sex and the City, Girlfriends, Cashmere Mafia, and Hot in Cleveland (McFarland, 2015) and Jiggle: (Re)Shaping American Women (Lexington Books, 2007), as well as many scholarly articles and critical reviews. Her current research focuses on the cross-regional experience of women triathletes aged forty and beyond. Dr. Burns-Ardolino holds a PhD in Cultural Studies and MA in English (Teaching of Writing and Literature) from George Mason University. Her BA was earned in International Politics and Philosophy at the University of Hull in England.

Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Burns-Ardolino is a committed teacher who is passionate about supporting her students. She was also one of the founders of GVSU's path-breaking Social Innovation Program. 

Dr. Wendy Burns-Ardolino, Graduate Program Director

Dr. Wendy Burns-Ardolino, Ph.D.

Graduate Program Director of Social Innovation and Professor of IRIS: Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies