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From Demanding Change to Making It.

The Burnes Center designs and implements practical solutions to society’s hardest problems. We develop innovative, participatory, and equitable approaches to solving public problems using new technology.

from the burnes center

  • Exploring the Power of Collective Intelligence: A Conversation with Prateek Buch and Brendan Arnold

    Burnes Center Director Beth Simone Noveck interviews Prateek Buch and Brendan Arnold from the UK Government’s Policy Lab on Collective Intelligence.

    Dec. 06, 2023 | The GovLab
  • Celebrating One Year of Putting Workers at the Center of the Power At Work Blog 

    Burnes Center Senior Fellow Seth Harris celebrates the one year anniversary of the Power At Work by looking back at key moments for workers and…

    Nov. 30, 2023 | Seth Harris | Power At Work
  • How to Count Strikes and Collective Actions with Johnnie Kallas

    This post is an edited interview of Johnnie Kallas, Director of the Cornell ILR Labor Action Tracker, conducted by the Labor Radio Podcast Network.

    Nov. 26, 2023 | Asia Simms | Power At Work

Burnes center projects

  • InnovateUS

    Delivering free online learning for public servants by public servants on data, digital, and innovation skills with an emphasis on evidence-based and equitable approaches.

  • Reboot Democracy

    Advancing collective intelligence with artificial intelligence.

  • Power at Work

    Contributing to a discourse in the United States that emphasizes the importance of collective action and puts workers and worker power at the center of…

  • Impact Studio: Unlocking Literacy

    Convening community conversations on improving literacy and equity.

  • AI For Impact

    Immersing students in the world of generative AI to deliver cutting-edge projects in partnership with government, nonprofit, social impact and civic organizations and companies.

  • Impact Studio: Election Subversion

    Bringing together diverse experts to counter efforts that undermine the integrity of U.S. elections.

upcoming events

  • Workshop

    InnovateUS: Human-Centered Design Series: Human-Centered Design in Government




  • Workshop

    InnovateUS: Human-Centered Design Series: Human-Centered Design in Government




  • Workshop

    InnovateUS: How to Use Generative AI in Government: Image Tools





  • AI growth brings safety and ethical concerns

    Burnes Center Director Beth Noveck discusses the use of AI in government.

    Dec. 02, 2023 | NJ Biz Beat with Raven Santana | PBS
  • Generative AI and Policymaking for the New Frontier

    Burnes Center Director Beth Noveck discusses Generative AI and Policymaking.

    Dec. 01, 2023 | Beth Noveck | Government Technology
  • A Year Ago, OpenAI’s ChatGPT Sparked a Revolution: Here’s What Happened

    Burnes Center Director Beth Simone Noveck comments on the use of ChatGPT as a tool.

    Nov. 30, 2023 | Ben Powers | The Messenger


Change-makers are made, not born.

Everyone has the potential and the power to become a successful problem solver.

We cannot solve tomorrow’s challenges with yesterday’s tools.

Innovative technologies, policies, and partnerships are required for systems-level change.

How you implement matters.

Solving problems in practice requires going beyond innovative ideas to implementation of equitable solutions that measurably improve people’s lives.

The future depends upon all of us.

Tackling systemic public problems demands that we work closely with communities from day one.


  • Education

    Teaching and learning the skills of social change and impact

  • Research

    Building the emerging field of global social change and impact

  • Convening

    Connecting communities of mission-driven leaders

  • Action

    Leading implementation of innovative solutions in key areas, including education equity, strengthening democracy and reducing gun violence


Solving Public Problems

Our free foundational course providing the skills to design and implement social change.

  • Tools and technologies for designing and implementing mission-driven projects
  • Ways to use Big Data and community wisdom to tackle problems  
  • How to combine subject matter expertise and problem-solving skills
  • An introduction to leading social and public innovators

Interactive exercises

Video tutorials

12-part online program


As a university-wide center, we look for new opportunities to collaborate with others engaged in social-impact work.


About the Burnes family

The Center is named in recognition of the generous investment made by the Burnes Family: Nonnie and Richard Burnes, and their three children, who have championed many social causes.

Nonnie Burnes, who passed away in August 2021, leaves behind a remarkable legacy defined by her selfless commitment to making real change in her communities and around the world. A 1978 Northeastern School of Law alumna, Nonnie pursued equality and justice, and was passionate about empowering others. She was a leader in the Massachusetts legal community and left a legacy of championing women’s rights and liberties. She upheld and advocated  these ambitious values while serving on Northeastern’s Board of Trustees and as a senior university fellow at the university’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.   

“For all who were fortunate enough to know her, Nonnie Burnes was a pure joy; a person of unequaled spirit, courage, and grace, with a passion for helping others that defined her every undertaking.”



The challenges societies face today cannot be solved with yesterday’s toolkit. The Burnes Center for Social Change at Northeastern University advances real-world impact by teaching individuals and institutions the skills needed to design and implement innovative and equitable solutions to our hardest problems. In the process, we are building a new field of social impact that leverages data, technology and community wisdom and the power of institutions to enable systems-level change in practice.


Get involved.

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