Course description

The 3-week Social Innovation Lab field course provides you an opportunity to explore Ho Chi Minh City’s highly innovative social innovation landscape, and to address social innovation topics in partnership with local entrepreneurs and civil society leaders.

GEI’s Social Innovation Labs in countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa and Vietnam aspire to drive collective social impact in the host countries by researching, designing and implementing out-of-the-box solutions with and for local communities. Student teams first develop key skills through classroom learning, workshops, field visits and general cultural immersion. You then spend two weeks working in interdisciplinary service-learning teams to address a specific social innovation topic in partnership with local entrepreneurs and civil society leaders. These topics derive from our ongoing Social Innovation Lab and Social Enterprise Incubator projects.

  • Learn to use basic design thinking tools to solve social problems with a “designerly” mindset
  • Understand the role of social innovation in dealing with complex sustainable development issues
  • Engage with Vietnamese entrepreneurs or civil society leaders to develop social innovation solutions.
  • Work in a small multicultural team and gain invaluable intercultural competence relevant to your field of study.
  • Explore the progress and challenges towards development of one of Asia’s leading success stories – Vietnam.
  • Broaden your personal and professional network, and build lasting international friendships.

What’s Included?

  • Tuition
  • Arrival day airport meet and greet
  • Housing
  • Transportation for program activities
  • Meals during program activities
  • Orientation
  • Program-related activity and entrance fees
  • Full-time on-site coordination and support


What Isn’t?

Not included are the transportation to/from the destination airport (including international airfare and taxes), visas, immunizations, some of the meals, items and services of a personal nature, medical expenses not covered by the insurance provided and other discretionary expenses.


Academic credits

Academic credits are available at an additional fee from the U.S. academic school of record.

Enrollment requirements

There are no academic prerequisites. To be eligible to apply for this course, students can be enrolled in any major and minor, including, among others, business, engineering, social sciences, development studies, or any related area. Service-learning tasks will be tailored to the backgrounds and skills of the students. Enrollment is generally reserved for sophomores, juniors and seniors, or by consent of the instructor. Graduate students and professionals are welcome to apply for participation without credits.

Course requirements and student evaluation

  • Course participation and engagement (25%)
  • Weekly reflective journal or blog (10%)
  • Journalistic article (10%)
  • Group presentation (25%)
  • Essay relating to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (30%)


Global Instructor

Coralie Jacquot, our GEI Executive Coordinator, is the Global Instructor for our Social Innovation Lab courses. A French national, she holds Master’s degrees in International Management (Dublin) and Business Management & International Affairs (Paris). Prior to joining us, she worked at the United Nations Secretariat’s Academic Impact Program in New York as well as at UNESCO’s Division of Water Sciences in Paris.


The course gateway is downtown Saigon, the bustling city center of Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1. The area is known for its maze of little restaurants, cafés and shops. It is also home to a variety of local guesthouses that are ideal for student accommodation. When placed in Ho Chi Minh City, students will be within easy walking distance of many main attractions such as Ben Thanh Market, the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the War Museum. The guesthouses feature 24-hour reception and security, free Wi-Fi and a daily breakfast. Rooms are typically equipped with individual air-conditioning, a fridge, TV, phone, small safety deposit box and en-suite bathroom with shower. Laundry and dry-cleaning services are available for a small fee.

In some cases, projects are located in other parts of Vietnam, particularly in Central Vietnam, including Quang Tri Province, north of Hue. Weekend excursions are arranged to visit attractive historical and cultural sites.