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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

  • Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang’s “Job Description” — a guiding star for generative AI, participatory democracy, and healing online deliberation

    Burnes Center Artificial Intelligence and Social Impact Fellow Jay Kemp shares their experience hearing from Audrey Tang, Digital Minister of Taiwan.

    Apr. 12, 2024 | Jay Kemp | Reboot Democracy
  • New Jersey is turning to AI to improve the job search process

    MyCareer.NJ.Gov exemplifies the critical role that public entities can play in harnessing AI for public good. As commercial websites and social media platforms proliferate, often…

    Apr. 11, 2024 | Beth Simone Noveck | Fast Company
  • Rebooting Democracy – News That Caught Our Eye #11: April 9nd, 2024

    Updates, research, and change-making that caught Burne’s Center’s Artificial Intelligence and Social Impact Fellow Jay Kemp’s eye, stories related to ways in which AI is…

    Apr. 09, 2024 | Jay Kemp | Reboot Democracy

Burnes center projects

  • Impact Studio: Unlocking Literacy

    Convening community conversations on improving literacy and equity.

  • InnovateMA – AI For Impact

    Solving public sector problems by tapping into the potential of Artificial Intelligence and the talent of Northeastern students.

  • 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…

  • The Internet We Deserve

    A Lecture Series on the history and possibilities of the Internet.

  • Impact Studio: Election Subversion

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


  • Can U.S. Move to a 4-day Work Week?

    Burnes Center Senior Fellow Seth Harris discusses Senate HELP Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders’s proposal to institute a 32-hour work week on Scripps News.

    Apr. 05, 2024 | Lauren Magarino | Scripps News
  • March jobs report ‘kills the argument’ that a recession is coming, says Seth Harris

    Burnes Center Senior Fellow Seth Harris breakdowns the March labor data, economic outlook, and more on CNBC’s power lunch.

    Apr. 05, 2024 | CNBC
  • How can we use AI to build more democratic societies? The key lies in transparency, Taiwan’s digital affairs minister says

    Burnes Center Director Beth Simone Noveck’s discussion with Audrey Tang, Digital Minister of Taiwan, is recapped in Northeastern Global News article.

    Apr. 05, 2024 | Cesareo Contreras | Northeastern Global News

upcoming events

  • Workshop

    InnovateUS: Government and Higher Education: Partnering for AI Success




  • Workshop

    InnovateUS: All Your AI Questions Answered!




  • Ian P. Sharp Lecture featuring Beth Simone Noveck

    Burnes Center Director Beth Simone Noveck is the lecturer for the closing session of Absolutely Interdisciplinary 2024, the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society’s…


    U of T: Schwartz Reisman Innovation Campus

    108 College Street Toronto, ON M5G 1L6 Canada


  • Workshop

    InnovateUS: Towards Deep Listening: Rethinking Public Engagement Through Generative AI




  • AI and the Future of Workplace Democracy

    Rebooting Democracy in the Age of AI Lecture Series presents “AI and the Future of Workplace Democracy” with guest lecturers Orly Lobel and Seth Harris.




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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