Info for USD Students

The Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge (Fowler GSIC) invites USD Toreros and students enrolled at partner universities to engage with one or more of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals by developing a social innovation that responds to an environmental or social challenge at the local or global level!

This page is designed for students at the University of San Diego. If you are a student at a partner university, please visit the page designed particularly for you!


February 26, 2020
Student Round 1 Submissions 

April 1, 2020
Student Round 2 Submissions due for feedback

April 21, 2020
Recorded 10-minute recorded pitch due

April 24, 2020 - USD Pitch Day
USD Student Round 2 Pitches, each USD Finalist Team will have a 30-minute timeslot between noon - 2 p.m. (allocating 10 minutes for your pitch, 7 minutes for Q & A, and 7 minutes of judge feedback)

April 29, 2020 - USD Finals Award Ceremony - Open to the Public
USD virtual showcase and award ceremony where seed funding is distributed

June 5,  2020
The Global Finals recorded 10-minute pitch, 90-Second fastpitch and pitch deck is due a week before the pitching date

Social Innovation Week: June 7-13, 2020

  • Tuesday, June 9 and Wednesday, June 10; teams will be assigned to a 30-minute session: 8 - 10 am, 11 am - 1 pm, 5 - 7 pm PDT  
    • Global Finals Pitch Days
      • 90-second pitch (judges will have already seen your 10-minute pitch)
      • 15 minutes for Q&A
      • 10 minutes for feedback
  • Thursday, June 11 and Friday, June 12
    • Top 12 Shortlisted Teams Pitch Day 
      • 10-minute pitch 
      • 15-minute Q&A 
      • 10-minute feedback 
  • What to Expect:
    • Teams will be able to share their screen during the Q & A and feedback portion to share specific slides to better answer judge questions
    • This will be shared out to you in a Google Calendar invitation prior to the event. 
    • Every Zoom room will be recorded, so your pitches & Q & A sessions will be recorded as Zoom recordings.

June 13, 2020 - Global Finals Award Ceremony - Open to the Public
Global virtual showcase and award ceremony where seed funding is distributed

Round 1 Submission Requirements:

Student-led teams analyze a social or environmental issue of their choice and produce a visual map/chart /infographic and an executive summary of the issue that demonstrates their understanding of this issue.

Round 1 Submission has three components:

  1. A visual map, chart or infographic that visually showcases a deep and nuanced understanding of the specific social or environmental issue studied by the student(s). This document should cover the problem and its causes, examine the current solution pool & players, identify gaps in the current service provision, and highlight where opportunities for change may lie. Excellent submissions usually address a narrow enough issue to demonstrate thorough analysis and give deliberate thought to the specific community, customer, or client that will be the key beneficiary of the solution to be developed in Round 2.
  2. An executive summary that explains the challenge (in as few as two pages with a maximum of 2,000 words). This summary should work as an aid to the visual map, and help the viewer interpret the main components:
    1. The problem landscape with key stakeholders
    2. The existing solutions landscape and current gaps
    3. Opportunities and recommendations
  3. A bibliography of all the sources cited in the executive summary or the visual map.

Additional Resources:


2020 Round 2 Submission Requirements:

Student-led USD Finalist teams craft an innovative solution to their chosen problem or issue and demonstrate this proposed solution’s impact, feasibility, sustainability, scalability or replicability, as well as its acceptability or desirability to the community or target population.

2020 Round 2 Submission has three components:

  1. Long Pitch: 10-minute recorded pitch, delivered virtually to a panel of judges by at least one member of the finalist team.
  2. Fast Pitch: 90-second recorded pitch, played prior to the awards announcement.
  3. An accompanying Pitch Deck: Only for the 10-minute pitch, no slides used/needed for the 90-second pitch.

Submit your Pitch Deck and Long Pitch by Tuesday, April 21 here

Submit your Fast Pitch by Sunday, April 26 here

Additional Resources:


2020 Round 3 Submission Requirements:

Up to two finalist teams from each participating college/university can advance to the global final. Pitch decks are due one week before the final pitch in June 2019. Student finalists can pitch in person in San Diego, California, USA, or virtually over the internet.  Finalists must also demonstrate well-defined next steps, a realistic implementation plan, and their team’s commitment to implementing the venture.

Round 3 Submission has three components:

  1. Long Pitch: 10-minute pre-recorded pitch, delivered virtually to a panel of judges by at least one member of the finalist team.
  2. Fast Pitch: 90-second pre-recorded pitch, played prior to the awards announcement.
  3. An accompanying Pitch Deck: Only for the 10-minute pitch, no slides used/needed for the 90-second pitch.

Additional Resources:


1 This methodology was originally developed as part of Map the System, a challenge run by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, in partnership with educational institutions across the world. For more information visit

Round 1 Submission Examples:

Round 1 of the Fowler GSIC requires students to analyze the problem that they are trying to solve and map the current problem and solution landscapes prior to proposing a solution. 1

Click here for examples of Executive Summaries for Round 1. 

Executive Summary Example 1: Refugees Illuminated

Executive Summary Example 2: Catolica Lisbon

Executive Summary Example 3: Transgender Wellness Initiative

Click here for examples of Infographics for Round 1. 

Infographic Example 1: Zemya

Infographic Example 2: Sonder

Infographic Example 3: Play to Stay 

Round 2 and 3 Submission Examples:  

Video of the 2018 Global Social Innovation Challenge Final

Video of the 2019 Global Social Innovation Challenge Final

Video example 1: Hoola One

Video example 2: Re:Fresh Smoothies

1 “Mapping the issue” as a first step for social entrepreneurship began as part of the “Oxford Global Challenge” hosted by the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship at the Said Business School at the University of Oxford (

  1. Why the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge (GSIC)?

People around the world increasingly view themselves as global citizens and favor companies that are socially and ecologically conscious. As the world becomes more interconnected, it is vital to bring these conscious citizens of the world together to solve the most pressing and chronic problems faced by communities around the world. The Fowler GSIC is designed to be such a platform through which we can inspire, learn from, and join forces with one another to help make this world a better place. Participation in the Fowler GSIC gives the students a hands-on opportunity to closely examine a global societal or environmental issue that impacts the lives of many, and think about the ways in which private, public and social sectors can collectively implement a solution that is impactful, sustainable, and scalable around the world. Along the way, students acquire necessary tools, receive mentoring, and possibly funding, to help them implement their social venture.

Ultimately, Fowler GSIC serves the society by equipping tomorrow’s citizens with the awareness, empathy, and understanding of sustainable development challenges, and by enabling them with the necessary knowledge and skills to develop practical yet impactful solutions that can positively shift the behavior of complex societal systems. Even if the participants do not implement their proposed social venture after taking part in the challenge, the learning experience makes them a much more socially and environmentally conscious decision maker regardless of the sector they end up working in after their graduation.

  1. How does the Center for Peace and Commerce define social innovation?

Social Innovation comprises of a novel solution to a social/environmental problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals.1

Social Innovation can take many shapes while creating a positive impact on the 5 Ps– Planet, People, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership.

See some of the ways social innovators are changing work in the 21st century.

1 PHILLS JR, J. A., DEIGLMEIER, K. & MILLER, D. T. 2008. Rediscovering Social Innovation. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 6, 34-43.

  1. What are the requirements for students’ topic selection?

Students get to choose an issue to address but are asked to align their efforts to one (or more) of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put forward by the UN.

  1. What are the prizes?

Seed funding totaling $50,000 and a host of in-kind prizes will be awarded following the Fowler GSIC final in June 2019 at the University of San Diego.

  1. Who is eligible to participate?

The Fowler GSIC is designed and hosted by the Center for Peace and Commerce at the University of San Diego. If you are a USD Torero, you are automatically eligible to participate in the Fowler GSIC - individually or as part of a team (with a maximum of five members per team)!

In the case of proposals from an existing nonprofit or for-profit organization, at least one student team member of your team must be a C-level officer or a director of the organization (e.g., Executive Director, CEO, COO, etc.) or a  majority owner of the business.

In addition, students from all degree and diploma-granting postsecondary education institutions such as universities / colleges located anywhere in the world are also eligible to participate in the Fowler GSIC, as long as their institution registers for Fowler GSIC participation by November 1, 2018. 

  1. What are the team size requirements?
  • Minimum team size is 1 (i.e. a student can participate as an individual).
  • Maximum team size is 5.
  • If a venture team has more than five members, the team will need to select a subset of up to five members that can represent the rest of the team in the Fowler GSIC, and obtain a written consent before the deadline for round 1 submission from those venture team members that are left out of the Fowler GSIC team.
  1. How about teams made up of members from multiple participating institutions?

Teams made up of members from multiple participating institutions are absolutely welcome! Each participating institution gets to nominate up to two teams to the global final. Therefore, if a team has members from more than one participating institution, the team must secure a nomination from one of these institutions for the global final. In addition, one of the team members must be a current student (as of December 2018) of the nominating institution. 

  1. Do I get to choose an issue to address or do I have to select from a predefined list of issues?

You get to choose an issue to address. You will be asked to align your efforts to one (or more) of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put forward by the UN. 

  1. What is an appropriate scope for my topic?

Start by identifying WHAT (i.e. a problem or an issue you want to solve) and then define WHO (i.e. the target population you aim to help in solving this problem) or start with WHO and then define WHAT. Look at the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put forward by the UN if you want additional inspiration. Now, decide on how narrow or wide geographic focus you want to have for your proposed innovation. You are free to focus at a local, regional, national, or even international level. However, when you move from defining the problem to identifying potential solutions, it generally helps to narrow down the geographic focus further.


  • Showcasing a clear and nuanced understanding of the current problem and solution landscapes will give you the best chance to advance from round 1 to round 2 (semi-finals).
  • Formulating a potential solution that passes through the considerations of measurable impact, feasibility, acceptability/desirability, sustainability, vulnerability, and scalability/replicability will give you the best chance to advance from round 2 to round 3 (the global final).
  • A compelling implementation plan and team commitment to take the venture forward will tremendously improve your chances of winning seed funding in round 3 (the global final).
  1. Can I participate in multiple teams?

Yes, we allow participation of a single individual in multiple teams provided your institute is ok with that.

However, we know from experience that the winning teams put a significant amount of effort into their submissions. This puts any team with members who straddle multiple teams (and therefore, multiple venture proposals) at a significant disadvantage. Therefore, we highly recommend (but DO NOT require) that you focus only on one topic to maximize the chance of winning seed funding at the global final in San Diego.

  1. Does the participation in the Fowler GSIC count for university credit?

At USD, that's not the case so far. However, this may change in future years.

  1. Can I reuse work I have already submitted for a course or work that I have presented/published elsewhere, or work that I have done/am doing jointly with others who are not on my Fowler GSIC team?

You are welcome to reuse and build upon any of your own previous work. We ask that you cite all the sources that you use, including your own.

If the work that you plan to reuse has contributors that are not on your Fowler GSIC team for any reason, you must obtain separate written consent from each of those individuals. This consent must be dated before February 2019, and must clearly specify that individual’s expectations around acknowledgment/attribution. 

  1. How do I cite my sources of information? Can I use external media and graphics from other reports or sources?

You can follow any of the established and well-known styles (such as APA, MLA 7, MLA 8, Chicago, Harvard, etc.). Just be consistent across all your documents across all rounds of submissions.

Yes, you can use external media and graphics, provided you correctly and adequately cite the source.

  1. Will my submission be made public?

One of the primary goals of the Fowler GSIC is to facilitate learning for everyone and to contribute towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals proposed by the UN.

To help further these goals, we will publish the submissions of the finalists on our website. We may also publish the round 1 / round 2 / round 3 submissions from any teams who submit high-quality work. 

  1. What are the terms and conditions I need to agree to before submitting my entry?

The authors of each submitted venture proposal will retain ownership of their entries. However, by entering the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge (GSIC), you grant the University of San Diego and its respective employees, agents, and assigns a perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, and unconditional license to record, edit, modify, reproduce, copy, transmit, live stream, telecast, publish, post, broadcast, display, adapt and/or use or reuse your submitted venture proposal, your pitch, and any materials submitted or prepared for use in the Fowler GSIC, your name, image, voice, likeness, statements, background and biographical information in any and all media (including but not limited to print, electronic, video, digital, radio, television, internet, etc.) for publicity, promotion, advertising, fundraising, administrative, academic or educational purposes. To the extent any monies are earned as a result of the license granted, the monies shall be used to defray the costs of future Fowler GSIC competitions or other such initiatives undertaken by the University of San Diego.

By entering the Fowler GSIC, you acknowledge and certify that you own all of the content included in your submitted plan or otherwise have obtained any required permissions to use such content, and that your submitted venture proposal does not include any content (e.g. trademarks, company names, photos, music, works of art, or images) that infringes or violates the rights of any third party.

Entrants should not have an expectation of confidentiality with respect to any data or information submitted, discussed, or presented in connection with the Fowler GSIC. Due to the nature of the competition, judges, reviewers, staff, the audience or others will not be asked or required to agree to a non-disclosure agreement in connection with any venture proposals submitted in connection with the Fowler GSIC.

You authorize the University of San Diego and those acting pursuant to its authority to record, broadcast and distribute via any means (e.g. print, radio, television, internet, photograph, video, audio, digital, or otherwise) your plan and your participation in the Fowler GSIC, and to use your name, photograph or likeness, as well as your testimonials, quotes, comments, or biography for publicity, promotion, advertising, fundraising, administrative, academic or educational purposes. Any such recordings or broadcasts shall be the property of the University of San Diego.

You release the University, the sponsors, and those acting pursuant to their authority from liability from any and all claims arising out of or relating in any way to your participation the Fowler GSIC.

Right to Disqualify

The Center for Peace and Commerce at the University of San Diego reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any entry it determines to be ineligible or that does not comply with these terms and conditions. A venture proposal entry that is not submitted through the designated online platform and/or does not include all of the required components and/or is not received by the University of San Diego by the applicable deadline and/or is not viewable online for any reason will be rejected automatically and will not be considered for advancement / prizes.

Award Distribution

Prizes may be awarded directly to the student who submitted the application, to a business organization created as a result of the student project, or to a business organization led by a current eligible student who participates in the Fowler GSIC (provided that the student is an officer or director of the organization and, in the case of a for-profit organization, is a majority owner, or is part of a team of eligible students who collectively are the majority owners).

The Center for Peace and Commerce at the University of San Diego reserves the right in its sole discretion to distribute the prize money as a lump-sum or in tranches, and may require the winning teams to meet specific milestones within pre-specified time limits and provide periodic progress reports as qualifying conditions for disbursing the initial and the subsequent tracheas of the seed funding prize money.

Seed funding awarded as Fowler GSIC prizes may be subject to taxation (including tax withholding at source) by the US and the destination country for the funds. It will be the responsibility of the winning team to provide necessary information & documentation to CPC as requested to determine such liability and comply with the relevant tax laws.

If the destination country or the individuals or entities concerned for the prize money are on the OFAC list1, the CPC may need to withhold or cancel the prize award to comply with the US government regulations. It will be the responsibility of each team participating in the Fowler GSIC to check this list before deciding to participate in the challenge.

1 The Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") of the US Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States.

Award Obligation

Monetary Prizes are designated as “Seed Funding” for the concerned venture proposal and must be spent in direct support of the project and adhere as closely as possible to the final written plan. Students must submit monthly/quarterly progress reports to the University of San Diego’s Center for Peace and Commerce (“CPC”) for a period of twelve months following the receipt of an award. Students must also give a public “status update” presentation for the CPC, approximately six months after receiving the award, unless otherwise mutually agreed upon.

  1. How do I enter the Fowler GSIC?

Please contact us at to express your interest in the Fowler GSIC, and we will add you to our mailing list to keep you up-to-date on upcoming Idea Labs and to let you know when the submission portal is ready to accept 1st round submissions.

What do you want to do today?

Office Hours

Schedule a call/in-person meeting with us today for questions/additional information:

Silvia Mah's Office Hours

Juliet Zimmer's Office Hours