• Social Entrepreneurship and Higher Education: Impact Economy Co-Leads Faculty Institute with Ashoka U in Florida

    February 2013

    What is the potential of social entrepreneurship in the changing world of higher education and how can faculty design and teach the most effective courses, curricula and programs? As the Founding Ashoka U Faculty in Residence, Impact Economy’s Dr. Maximilian Martin co-led an Ashoka U Faculty Institute on best practices in social entrepreneurship education at Rollins College, Florida together with Marina Kim, Director of Ashoka U. The Faculty Institute, which was hosted by the Rollins Social Entrepreneurship & Sustainability Initiative (SESi) and is a cross-campus initiative helping students channel their passion for social change in solution-orientated action, gathered 45 faculty to explore how to best integrate social entrepreneurship into the curricula of different disciplines and how to shape the overall social entrepreneurship offering at Rollins College.

    Rollins College is the oldest recognized college in the state of Florida and was ranked #1 in the South by U.S. News and World Report. It specializes in arts and sciences, professional studies and business (also at the graduate level via the Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business). Rollins was named a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U in September 2012 and was the first college in Florida to join the Changemaker Campus Consortium. Launched in 2010, the Rollins Social Entrepreneurship & Sustainability Initiative is now a cross-campus initiative that has just sparked four new courses focusing on social entrepreneurship, to be launched in the Spring 2013 semester, including Impact Investing, Social Entrepreneurship, Strategy for Changemakers, and Social Entrepreneurship & Sustainability (MBA Level).

    A panel discussion with students highlighted that social entrepreneurship education is an extremely potent motivator as students acquire skills and knowledge, and design their careers and life paths. Students are hungry to learn how they can contribute and make a difference, particularly in the face of intensifying domestic and international challenges. The challenges—from higher education and poverty to environmental destruction, to name a few—typically require joint action from different stakeholders, including government, civil society actors, and business simultaneously, as well as a need to experiment with innovative solutions. Where market-based solutions (on which many social enterprises are based) can be found, they can provide scalable alternatives for helping to combat the social challenges of our generation and equip future changemakers to address the issues of tomorrow.

    The purpose of the Faculty Institute was to bring specialized input on how Rollins College can best seize the promise of social entrepreneurship and social innovation education in pursuit of the College’s educational mission in the twenty-first century—driving impact for its students, Florida, and the world. Dr. Martin brought his deep expertise of teaching and researching the subject for over ten years and starting the first social entrepreneurship university course in Europe. He led sessions on the case for social entrepreneurship education, how to build a great social entrepreneurship course, what works and what doesn’t, and how to make the subject relevant to each discipline. Faculty had the opportunity for both one-to-one discussions about developing their own courses, as well as group and plenary internal discussions on how to implement and move forward. The program can be downloaded below.