“Social Impact” Track: March 11–15

The Forrest Four-Cast: January 21, 2017

The 2017 SXSW Conference includes more than 1000 total sessions in 24 different tracks. Check the grid on this page to understand which tracks occur on which days, particularly tracks like “Brands & Marketing” and “Intelligent Future” that run into the second half of SXSWeek.

Given the current socio-political landscape in the United States as well as around the world, we expect that the five-day “Social Impact” track will be very popular with the SXSW community. Ten of the sessions that I am particularly proud we are hosting as part of this track are as follows:

  1. Action Against Online Harassment Meet Up. Building off the momentum of the “Online Harassment Summit” at SXSW 2016, this Meet Up is organized by Elizabeth Lee and Samantha Silverberg of Online SOS. Scheduled Tuesday, March 14.
  2. Building Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems. The thesis of this session is that significant investment from large corporations, foundations, local, state and federal government agencies, colleges and universities and private investors in comprehensive inclusive innovation, entrepreneurship and investment initiatives will add over $500 billion in market value to the tech industry and could increase our GDP by up to 1.6%. Scheduled Saturday, March 11.
  3. Can Hip Hop Save Us? This session will explore ways to connect artists to young people, embrace new modes of learning, and reimagine the artist’s role in shaping the future. Scheduled Wednesday, March 15.
  4. Countering Extremism Online from ISIS to Neo-Nazis. Another session that invokes the March 2016 “Online Harassment Summit,” this session will explore methods of countering hate, online and off, and ask tough questions about what are tech companies’ responsibilities for dealing with hate speech on their platforms while considering the implications for free speech and censorship in online spaces. Scheduled Sunday, March 12.
  5. From Hood to Good Meet Up. We bring one of America’s biggest dilemmas to SXSW. Why you ask? This issue needs to be seen from different angles and perspectives so that fresh solution-based ideas can sprout. This meet up is for anyone who is interested in creating a positive shift in our underserved communities. Scheduled Tuesday, March 14.
  6. From Meme to Protest: What’s Next for Online Activism. This panel focuses on how we can create better content that connects with people and moves them to action. A lifelong media activist and digital content strategist share the secrets to success with not just creating accessible and shareable content but how to get people offline and taking action. Scheduled Saturday, March 11.
  7. Girls and Sex: Navigating from Shame to Joy. Journalist Peggy Orenstein interviewed girls ages 15–20 about their attitudes towards and experiences of sex for her recent best-selling book. Learn what she discovered about the gap between experience and enjoyment after so much research. Scheduled Tuesday, March 14.
  8. Inspiring Global Change Through Women’s Stories. Moderated by ConnectHer founder Lila Igram, this dynamic panel includes people like Nobel Prize nominee Sakena Yacoobi, an Afghan educator, and Libyan activist Alaa Murabit, a Newsweek’s “25 Women Under 25 to Watch.” They’ll talk about the power of women telling their stories. Scheduled Monday, March 13.
  9. It Got Better: Collaboration in LGBT Storytelling. Learn why and how the “It Get Betters Project” partnered with a non-profit, a major brand and an ad agency to create and distribute their message of hope. Scheduled Tuesday, March 14.
  10. Shut Up and Do Something. This panel include a variety of experts who have turned ideas into impact. They’ll tell us how it happened for them. The moments that led to movements. How it can and will happen for each of us. Scheduled Sunday, March 12.

Some of the most compelling sessions in the “Social Impact” track are scheduled for Wednesday, March 15 — so please plan your trip to Austin accordingly. And remember that many of the close-in downtown hotels have more availability towards the middle of the SXSWeek timeframe.

Purchase your SXSW registration to attend these “Social Impact” sessions (plus all the content in the other 24 tracks). Save $100 on the walkup price if you complete this transaction before the end of the day on Friday, February 10. But watch this video first so you know which badge to buy!

Hugh Forrest tries to write four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts generally cover technology-related trends. When not attempting to wordsmith or meditating, he serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW in Austin.