Growing through Social Entrepreneurship

Growth is a fundamental aspect of our time spent at William and Mary. As one of the founding seeds of our Nation’s history, to the molding of the up-and-coming great minds of tomorrow, the College has proven to be a source of collaborative growth. Currently, the emergence of social entrepreneurship in both curriculum and extra curricular activities is one such growth that is taking place on campus. However, as is the case with most new and exciting advancements, the underlying intentions of social entrepreneurship can be lost in its over exposure. So what is a social entrepreneur? According to Ashoka, an organization that invests in social entrepreneurs, they can be described as individuals who tackle major social issues through changing the system. This type of social change requires these individuals to be extremely motivated and persistent in their objectives to not only invent new solutions, but to be able to implement them on a large scale as well.

William and Mary is one of the leaders in higher education with regards to integrating social entrepreneurship into its curriculum. Aside from hosting multiple conferences a year on the topic and sending students to many more programs around the world, the Mason School of Business is offering two courses in Social Entrepreneurship for undergraduates in 2012. With both being instructed by Professor Scott McCoy, the spring course is held on campus and works to develop an academic understanding of social entrepreneurship by integrating classroom discussions and guest speakers with a semester long a consulting project. The summer course will then turn concepts into experience by traveling to Central America, specifically Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. While abroad students will be serving as international development consultants working with entrepreneurs and NGOs to gain a better understanding of how consulting works in the field of social entrepreneurship in developing countries. These two courses accent the interdisciplinary nature of social entrepreneurship by bringing together students from all departments across campus. Marielle Larson, a Junior in the course, attributes much of the classroom discussions value to the fact that you have sociology and business students collaborating on a central focus.

Now that administrators and professors have taken steps to expand the curriculum, as a student body we need to see what we can do next to ensure that these opportunities enhance our personal and academic growth. Based on the Ashoka understanding of social entrepreneurship, the number of true social entrepreneurs is limited by certain innate characteristics that are naturally only possessed by a few individuals, characteristics that enable an individual to change the way a society operates (the Steve Job’s personality). Junior Dan Casey, a student in Professor McCoy’s course, offered an interesting perspective on how we should go about promoting social entrepreneurship on campus while maintaining the value of its definition. Dan believes we should force the issue of making traditional service more entrepreneurial. We must strive to make our service organizations more efficient and effective agents of change. We can all be “change makers” by applying the knowledge and perspectives we gain from each other. As we grow, the College grows and visa versa, so if we take the opportunity to inquire about social entrepreneurship and develop it as a principle of this campus, the “change makers” that emerge from William and Mary will grow to become the social entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Special thanks to Marielle Larson (’13) and Dan Casey (’13)

Please contact me at cbkoontz@email.wm.edu

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Chase Beebe Koontz

Chase Beebe Koontz is an undergraduate student at the College of William and Mary.

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