Benjamin Lough

Benjamin Lough

Professor of Business Administration and Director of Social Innovation

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Ben Lough is a Professor of Social Work and Business Administration, and the Director of Social Innovation at Gies College of Business. He received his PhD from Washington University in St. Louis, and his B.A. and MSW degrees from Brigham Young University. Prior to joining the University of Illinois, he was Senior Researcher at the Volunteer Knowledge and Innovation Section at United Nations Volunteers (UNV) in Bonn, Germany. He teaches courses on nonprofit management, social enterprise, and social entrepreneurship. His research examines the practices of transnational voluntary organizations that promote community development and social innovation.


Educational Background

  • Ph.D. in Social Work, Brown School, Washington University, 2010
  • Master of Social Work, Brigham Young University, 2003
  • Bachelor of Science, Cum Laude, Sociology, Brigham Young University, 2000
  • Associate of Arts, Cum Laude, General Social Sciences, Ricks College, 1998

Positions Held

  • Dean, School of Social Work, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2023 to present
  • Director of Social Innovation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2020 to present
  • Professor, Business Administration, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2020 to present
  • Program Director, Masters of Social Work, School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaignn, 2016-2019
  • Senior Researcher, Volunteer Knowledge and Innovation, United Nations Volunteers (UNV); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2016-2019
  • Senior Research Associate, Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg, 2013 to present
  • Faculty Director of International Service, Center for Social Development, Washington University in St. Louis, 2012 to present
  • Professor, School of Social Work, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaignn, 2011 to present

Recent Publications

  • Laursen, T., & Lough, B. Forthcoming. Deployment of Funding Across Nonprofit, Hybrid, and For-profit Ventures. Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment, Taylor and Francis.
  • Compion, S., Lough, B., & Jeong , B. Forthcoming. Gendered Disparities in Funding of Nonprofit, Hybrid, and For-profit Start-up Ventures Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, Taylor and Francis.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2023). Do founders attribute their success to skill or luck? Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Springer, 12 (47), 17.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2022). Decentering Social Innovation: The Value of Dispersed Institutes in Higher Education. Social Enterprise Journal, Emerald Insight, 18 (1), 12-27.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2021). Voluntary ‘Organic' Leadership for Community Resilience. Voluntary Sector Review, 12 (1), 81-98.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2021). Examining the Normative Operations of Nonprofit Academic Centers. Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership, 11 (1), 87-103.  link >

Other Publications


  • Lough, B., & Tiessen, R. (2018). How do International Volunteering Characteristics Influence Outcomes? Perspectives from Partner Organizations. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 29 (1), 104--118.  link >
  • Lough, B., & Turner, Y. (2018). How to Accelerate Volunteering through Employee Volunteer Programmes. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 67 77-94.  link >
  • Tiessen, R., & Lough, B. (2018). International Volunteering Capacity Development: Volunteer Partner Organization Experiences of Mitigating Factors for Effective Practice. Forum for Development Studies, 46 (2), 299-320.  link >
  • Matthew, L., & Lough, B. (2017). Challenges Social Work Students Encounters in International Field Placements and Recommendations for Responsible Management. Journal of Social Work Education, Routledge, 53 (1), 18-36.  link >
  • Mays, D., O'Neil, E., Mworozi, E., Lough, B., Tabb, Z., Whitlock, A., Mutimba, E., & Talib, Z. (2017). Supporting and retaining Village Health Teams: An assessment of a Community Health Worker program in two Ugandan Districts. International Journal for Equity in Health, 16 (1).  link >
  • Kim, S., Lough, B., & Wu, C. (2016). The conditions and strategies for success of local currency movements. Local Economy, 31 (3), 344-358.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2016). Complementary contributions of international volunteers to development: Evidence from Kenya. Voluntaris, Nomos, 2 (2), 8--37.  link >
  • Lough, B., & Xiang, X. (2016). Skills-based international volunteering among older adults from the US. Administration & Society, Sage, 48 (9), 1085-1100.  link >
  • Lough, B., & Carter-Black, J. (2015). Confronting the white elephant: International volunteering and racial (dis)advantage. Progress in Development Studies, 15 (3), 207--220.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2014). Complementary contributions of international volunteers to development. Voluntaris, 2 (2), 8--37.
  • Lough, B., & McBride, A. (2014). Navigating the boundaries of active global citizenship. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 39 (3), 333--475.  link >
  • Lough, B., & Thomas, M. (2014). Building a Community of Young Leaders: Experiential Learning in Jewish Social Justice. Journal of Experiential Education, 37 (3), 248--264.  link >
  • Lough, B., Sherraden, M., & McBride, A. (2014). Developing and utilising social capital through international volunteer service. Voluntary Sector Review, 5 (3), 331--344.
  • Lough, B., Sherraden, M., McBride, A., & Xiang, X. (2014). The impact of international service on the development of volunteers' intercultural relations. Social Science Research, 46 48--58.  link >
  • Lough, B., Xiang, X., & Kang, S. (2014). Motivations for volunteering abroad in later life. International Journal of Volunteer Administration, 30 (2), 11--21.
  • Lough, B. (2013). Social work perspectives on international volunteer service. British Journal of Social Work, 44 (5), 1340-1355.  link >
  • Lough, B., & Allum, C. (2013). Effects of neoliberal adjustments on government-funded international volunteer cooperation organizations. Development in Practice, 23 (7), 908--919.
  • Lough, B., & McBride, A. (2013). The influence of solution-focused reflection on international social entrepreneurship identification. Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, 4 (2), 220-236.  link >
  • Perold, H., Graham, L., Mavungu, E., Cronin, K., Muchemwa, L., & Lough, B. (2013). The colonial legacy of international voluntary service. Community Development Journal, 48 (2), 179--196.  link >
  • Sherraden, M., Lough, B., & Bopp, A. (2013). Students serving abroad: A framework for inquiry. Journal of Higher Education and Outreach, 17 (2), 7--42.
  • Lough, B., Sherraden, M., & McBride, A. (2012). Measuring international service outcomes: Implications for international social work field placements. Journal of Social Work Education, 48 (3), 479--499.  link >
  • McBride, A., Lough, B., & Sherraden, M. (2012). International Service and the Perceived Impacts on Volunteers. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 41 (6), 969--990.  link >
  • Brassard, C., Sherraden, M., & Lough, B. (2011). International volunteerism in Asia. Humaneity Magazine, (February), 37--40.
  • Lough, B. (2011). International volunteers' perceptions of intercultural competence. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35 (4), 452--464.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2011). International volunteers' perceptions of intercultural competence. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35 (4), 452--464.  link >
  • Lough, B., McBride, A., Sherraden, M., & O'Hara, K. (2011). Capacity building contributions of short-term international volunteers. Journal of Community Practice, 19 (2), 120--137.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2010). Rise and demise of orphanages in Ukraine. 6 (April 2012), 37--41.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2010). The Perpetual Education Fund: Providing higher education loans in the voluntary sector. International Journal of Educational Development, 30 (4), 345--350.  link >
  • McBride, A., & Lough, B. (2010). Access to international volunteering. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 21 (2), 195--208.  link >
  • Brown, R., Nylander, A., King, B., & Lough, B. (2009). Growth Machine Attitudes and Community Development in Two Racially Diverse Rural Mississippi Delta Communities: A Monolithic Approach in Acomplex Region. Community Development Society. Journal, 31 (2), 173--195.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2009). Curricular blueprinting: The relevance of American social work education for international students. Social Work Education, 28 (7), 792--802.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2009). Principles of effective practice in international social work field placements. Journal of Social Work Education, 45 (3), 467--480.
  • Lough, B. (2008). Engaging the poor to challenge corrupt governance. International Social Work, 51 (4).  link >
  • Lough, B., & T., P. (2003). Rise and demise of Ukrainian orphanages. European Journal of Social Work, 6 (1), 49--63.  link >

Books and Monographs

  • Lough, B., Carroll, M., Bannister, T., Borromeo, K., & Mukwashi, A. (2018). The Thread that Binds: Volunteering and Community Resilience. State of the World's Volunteerism Report Bonn, Germany: United Nations Volunteers (UNV), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP.  link >
  • Leigh, R., Giesing, M., Le\'on, C, ., Haski-Leventhal, D., Lough, B., Mati, J., Smith, D., & Strassburg, S. (2011). State of the World's volunteerism report: Universal values for global well being. Bonn, Germany: United Nations Volunteers (UNV.

Technical Reports

  • Grandi, F., Lough, B., & Bannister, T. (2019). Global Trends in Volunteering Infrastructure. United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2016). Global Partners for Sustainable Development: The Added Value of Singapore International Foundation Volunteers. Singapore: Singapore International Foundation.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2015). Balancing Donor Priorities and the Civil Society Function. International Forum for Volunteering in Development.  link >
  • Lough, B. (2015). The Evolution of International Volunteering. United Nations Volunteers (UNV.  link >
  • Lough, B., McBride, A., & Sherraden, M. (2009). Perceived effects of international volunteering: Reports from alumni. St Louis, MO: Center for Social Development, Washington University.

Honors and Awards

  • University of Illinois Distinguished Promotion Award, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2021 to present
  • Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2017 to present


  • Fiscal Administration, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, 2022-2025
  • Workforce Development, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, 2022-2023,2023-2024
  • Policy on the Global Mental Health Workforce, United States Aid for International Development (USAID), 2022-2023
  • Reciprocity in International Exchange Cooperation, Norwegian Agency for Exchange Cooperation (Norec), 2022-2022
  • Leadership for Volunteering: The COVID-19 Experience, International Association for Volunteer Effort, 2020-2021
  • Perspectives from Partner Organizations on the Distinctive Contributions of International Volunteers to Gender Equality, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), 2019-2023
  • The Role of Volunteerism for Building Resilience in a Turbulent World, United Nations Development Programme, 2017-2018
  • The Relationship between International Volunteering and Local Community-based Volunteering, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), 2017-2018


  • Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, International Consortium for Social Development, 2021 to present
  • Chair, University Engagement and Research, Building Bridges Coalition, 2016 to present
  • Associate Editor, Voluntaristics Review, 2016 to present

Current Courses

  • iVenture Accelerator Sem II (BADM 464) Designed for students actively engaged in learning through venturing, primarily students in the iVenture Accelerator. Alongside collaboratively planning and discussing the future of their ventures, we explore the interplay of venturing, entrepreneurial skills, and career decisions. Students conduct quarterly board meetings; develop personal boards of advisors; and learn from speakers who have built diverse, entrepreneurial careers. Topics include: venture management and governance, financing, team hiring and dynamics, and strategies for growth.