Day 5 – Freedom and Change

Graham Saunders and Abby Falik with “Freedom”

The First session was designed by GCY’s Graham Saunders  to introduce the Fellows to the ideas of freedom and progress through a series of readings, case studies, and debate.

Notions of freedom and progress were divided into 3 theoretical frames: negative liberty (with a focus on self-interest and minimizing interference with it), positive liberty (with a focus on enabling people to live the “good life”), and relativism (where what it means to be free is culturally dictated, historically determined, and not a universal).  The readings included works by Thomas Hobbes (Negative Freedom), Amartya Sen (Positive Freedom), and Isaiah Berlin (Relativism) as well as a more recent examples from NY Times columnist David Brooks and the mission statement of Partners in Health.

The Fellows dug deep into a lively discussion (turned debate) as they considered different aspects of human nature, the role of government, and  social justice.

Joel Segre with “Leading Change”

Joel is an entrepreneur and strategist focused on creating business solutions in public health, who has experience working on projects around the world from Tanzania to India.  Joel’s first exercise highlighted several social innovations and challenged the Fellows to assess both their social impact and financial viability. Fellows considered a variety of products such as the Jaipur Foot, the $100 laptop, the camel library, and the LifeStraw (among others).  In addition, the Fellows were asked to place the products in the contexts where they would be of value and speculate on whether or not their was enough room for a value chain that led to profitability.

Each group of Fellows then had to place the innovation on an chart which graphed the intersection of social impact and financial viability.  After several surprising placements and vigorous debate, the Fellows concluded the exercise with an understanding of the challenges of product design and impact as well as the areas of interest on the part of venture capitalists, social investors, and philanthropists.

The Fellows second task was to propose a way to fix a broken health care delivery system that put “free” malaria medication out of reach for people who need them.  Fellows divided into teams and assigned a role in the supply chain – from the whole sale drug retailer to the patient and everyone in between. From the vantage point of each of these players the Fellows concluded that the only player who would support change was the patient, who coincidentally was not at the table.