Vaclav Havel Civil Society program to host lectures by noted social-entrepreneurism author

David Bornstein

David Bornstein

David Bornstein, a New York-based journalist and author of what has been called "the bible for social entrepreneurship" will spend several days in the Twin Cities this fall as the visiting scholar for a program sponsored by the Vaclav Havel Civil Society Symposium.

Author of The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank and the more recent How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Bornstein will begin his three-day visit and give two public lectures on Sunday, Oct. 25, at the House of Hope Presbyterian Church. The following day he will speak at a School of Engineering lunch on the University of St. Thomas campus.

A program to introduce the subject of social entrepreneurism will be held several days before Bornstein begins his visit. Dr. Steve Hoffman of the University of St. Thomas and Dr. Joseph Mestenhauser of the University of Minnesota will discuss "The Synergy of Civil Society and Social Entrepreneurism" from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the House of Hope, 797 Summit Ave., St. Paul.

The topics and times of his two public lectures at the House of Hope on Sunday, Oct. 25 are:

  • "Social Entrepreneurism: A Better Way to Change the World" from 11 a.m. to noon.
  • "Social Entrepreneurism: Global and Local Perspectives" from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

Three panelists will respond to his remarks at the 2:30 p.m. program. They are Doug Dirks of Ten Thousand Villages, Roger Salway of Compatible Technology International and Hussein Samatar of the African Development Center of Minnesota.

The Oct. 21 and Oct. 25 programs are free and open to all.

Bornstein also will give the first lecture at a School of Engineering program from noon to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, in the Rogge-Leyden Room of Murray-Herrick Campus Center. The event is free but reservations are required by Thursday, Oct. 22. To register, call (651) 962-5750 or send an e-mail note to A buffet lunch will be served following his talk on the role of technology in the work of social entrepreneurs.

Bornstein traveled the world to conduct research and conduct interviews for his books. How to Change the World looks at the growing wave of social entrepreneurism and how determined and creative individuals can bring positive changes to the lives of thousands or even millions of people.

“Indeed, social entrepreneurs are uniquely suited to make headway on problems that have resisted considerable money and intelligence," he writes in his book.  "Where governments and traditional organizations look at problems from the outside, social entrepreneurs come to understand them intimately, from within … they work to elicit change rather than impose it, so they build human capacity rather than encouraging dependency.”

Bornstein holds a bachelor of commerce from McGill University and a master's in journalism from New York University. His articles have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly and New York Times, and he co-wrote the PBS documentary "To Our Credit." He received the 2007 Human Security Award for work in social entrepreneurship from the Coalition Advocating Human Security at the University of California Irvine.

The Vaclav Havel Civil Society Symposium was established in 1999 to encourage discussion on the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Symposium speakers have included Havel, the first president of the Czech Republic, who gave the inaugural address, and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The symposium has since evolved into a yearly scholar-in-residence program that is a partnership of St. Thomas, the House of Hope Presbyterian Church and Weyerhauser Preaching Ministry in cooperation with the Minnesota Czech and Slovak communities. Co-sponsors are Compatible Technology International, Ten Thousand Villages, African Development Center of Minnesota and Minnesota International Center.

Bornstein's visit and lectures set the stage for the Nov. 4 presentation at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis of the Opus Prize. That day, three social entrepreneurs from Brazil, Colombia and Morocco will be honored by St. Thomas and the Opus Prize Foundation; one will receive a $1 million award to further his or her faith-based humanitarian efforts.

The finalists are Aicha Ech-Channa, who provides services for unmarried women and their children in Casablanca, Morocco; Sister Valeriana Isabel Garcia Martin, who cares for disabled children in Bogota, Colombia; and Father Hans Stapel of Guaratingueta, Brazil, who operates more than 60 communities for people with drug and alcohol addictions. More information is available on the Opus Prize Web site.

For general information about the Vaclav Havel Civil Society Symposium, call St. Thomas' Center for Intercultural Learning and Community Engagement at (651) 962-6800. Information also is available at Web sites for the House of Hope, Czech and Slovak Cultural Center of Minnesota,  Minnesota International Center,  Compatible Technology International and  Ten Thousand Villages.