According to the latest issue of the Academy of Management Learning and Education (AMLE), more than 148 institutions were teaching some aspect of social entrepreneurship as of 2011. Just a decade ago, there were virtually no business school courses on social entrepreneurship. The increase in such course offerings reflects a growing demand for students to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge for taking on a career meeting the world’s most pressing needs.
But what do we know about the state of social entrepreneurship education today?
To address this question, we put together a list of five articles from the special AMLE issue on social entrepreneurship that provide insight on the challenges of teaching social entrepreneurship, best practices, expert opinion, and recommendations for educators on how to shape courses and select teaching material.
Article #1: From the Guest Editors: Educating Social Entrepreneurs and Social Innovators
This introductory article by the editors Thomas Lawrence, Nelson Phillips, and Paul Tracey, who are social entrepreneurship educators themselves, gives a summary of what to expect in the issue. They hope to respond to the challenges facing educators amidst growing demand for courses that develop social entrepreneurs and social innovators.
Key points from the article:
1) There are two main challenges faced by social entrepreneurship educators:
Understanding the work. Educators struggle to understand what social entrepreneurs and social innovators actually do, and therefore, what they need to know. Without a clear idea of these activities, it becomes difficult to develop appropriate courses and programs.
Designing the course. Suppose they understand social entrepreneurship and social innovation. The question becomes how to design courses and course materials. Currently, teaching materials are abundant but fragmented, it is not obvious what should be included in the course, and it is not clear how the materials should be adopted and used.
2) There are two overlapping notions of social entrepreneurship identified in literature:
The first is when someone reconfigures resources to achieve some kind of social change or societal transformation, but does not necessarily rely on commercial means to do so. This is more commonly associated with social innovation.
The second is when someone identifies and exploits market opportunities to develop products and services, in essence creating an “enterprise for a social purpose”. This is increasingly becoming more commonly associated with social entrepreneurship.
3) New courses and programs must address special challenges faced by social entrepreneurs and social innovators. For social entrepreneurs, these challenges are managing accountability, managing a double bottom line, and managing identity. For social innovators, these challenges are understanding how social problems are rooted and overcoming resistance from residential communities, government agencies, political factions, and corporate actors.
Social Enterprise Buzz is a media company dedicated to covering social enterprise news from around the world. We publish a range of stories from startups to entrepreneurship, innovation, and finance, which showcase business making the world a better place. Read more.