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Ben Lough

Professor, Director of Social Innovation at the Gies College of Business

head shot image of Ben Lough


(217) 244-5242

School of Social Work

1010 W. Nevada Street

Urbana, IL

Office: 2115

Areas of focus

Social Innovation


SOCW 245: Doing Good in the Nonprofit Sector, SOCW 321: Social Entrepreneurship & Social Change, SOCW 375: Social Enterprise Lab, BADM 463: iVenture Seminar

What I Do

I study grassroots changemaking because I believe people have power to change the world. Whether we commit to volunteer in our communities or to launch a social enterprise, I believe people have the agency to make a difference.


BS in Sociology, 2000, MSW, 2003 – Brigham Young University

Ph.D. in Social Work with a Doctoral Certificate in New Institutional Economic, 2010- Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis


Dr. Lough’s teaching interests focus on community development, nonprofit management, and social innovation. He currently teaches courses on the nonprofit sector, social entrepreneurship/enterprise, and organizational strategies for social change. He previously taught courses on the management of human service organizations, social welfare policy, and international social work and development.

Dr. Lough is currently collaborating with researchers at the University of Ottawa to understand how grassroots voluntary organizations are advancing gender equality through innovations in digital learning. He is also studying the comparative advantages of hybrid social purpose organizations over traditional nonprofits. In his position as Senior Researcher for the UN Volunteers program, he recently finished a 15-country study investigating how civil society organizations and volunteers contribute to community resilience.

Selected Publications

  • Lough, Benjamin J. (2021). Decentering social innovation: The value of dispersed institutes in higher education. Social Enterprise Journal. Online First.
  • Lough, Benjamin J. (2021). Voluntary “organic” leadership for community resilience. Voluntary Sector Review 12(1): 81-98.
  • Lough, Benjamin. J. (with Carroll, M., Bannister, T., Borromeo, K., & Mukwashi, A. K.). (2018). The Thread that Binds: Volunteerism and Community Resilience (2018 State of the Worlds Volunteerism Report). Bonn, Germany: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) & United Nations Volunteers (UNV).
  • Lough, Benjamin J., & Tiessen, Rebecca (2018). How do international volunteering characteristics influence outcomes? Perspectives from partner organizations. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 29(1): 104-118.
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