The suc­cess of a free mas­sive open online course focused on phil­an­thropy has prompted North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, which founded the course in part­ner­ship with the sister of bil­lion­aire Warren Buf­fett, to launch a lab­o­ra­tory designed to empower social change and civic engage­ment, campus offi­cials said.

The uni­ver­sity announced this week the launch of the Social Impact Lab, describing it as “a hub of inno­v­a­tive expe­ri­en­tial cur­ricula, pro­gram­ming, and events designed to empower social change and civic engage­ment across dis­ci­plines and around the world.”

The lab’s sig­na­ture pro­gram will be “Giving With Pur­pose,” a free online course that teaches effec­tive char­i­table giving. The uni­ver­sity said it is the first-​​ever MOOC focused on phil­an­thropy and informed civic engagement.

The course, which debuted this past summer, was cre­ated in part­ner­ship with theLearning by Giving Foun­da­tion, which Doris Buf­fett, 85, founded and directs.

She is the older sister of bil­lion­aire investor and phil­an­thropist Warren Buffett.

I am invested in sharing my pas­sion for phil­an­thropy with the next gen­er­a­tion of phil­an­thropic leaders,” Doris Buf­fett said in a statement.

‘Giving With Pur­pose’ exceeded all of our expec­ta­tions last summer, and we are thrilled to have the oppor­tu­nity to offer it again this spring with North­eastern Uni­ver­sity,” she added.

A key aspect of the course is having par­tic­i­pants help decide how to award money from Doris Buffett’s foun­da­tion to local non­profits. During the course’s inau­gural run, more than 10,000 people par­tic­i­pated helping to dis­tribute $130,000 to 40 nonprofits.

Guest speakers in the MOOC have included both Warren and Doris Buf­fett, as well as former Major League Base­ball player Cal Ripken Jr., broad­cast jour­nalist Soledad O’Brien, Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, and Ben & Jerry’s co-​​founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.

The course will re-​​launch in March fea­turing new guests and a new plat­form. In the coming fall, the course will be offered as a credit-​​bearing course.

It is a chal­lenge and respon­si­bility that we work together to create a global cul­ture of phil­an­thropy,” North­eastern pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun, said in a state­ment. “This MOOC is leading the field with its model of expe­ri­en­tial phil­an­thropy and will drive new ways of giving across plat­forms, con­ti­nents, and generations.”

Along with the course, Northeastern’s new Social Impact Lab will fea­ture sev­eral other “expe­ri­en­tial learning pro­grams that bridge the class­room and the com­mu­nity,” campus offi­cials said.

A phil­an­thropy edu­ca­tion pro­gram run by the lab, North­eastern Students4Giving, has stu­dents “study civic engage­ment and social change while making real-​​dollar grants to Boston-​​area non­profits,” offi­cials said.

Rebecca Riccio, the founding director of North­eastern Students4Giving and the teacher of the “Giving With Pur­pose” MOOC, has been appointed director of the Social Impact Lab, which will be housed within the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Humanities.

Read the article at Boston.com →