Edited by Charles H. Matthews and Eric W. Liguori
Chapter 22: Social entrepreneurship education: global experiential learning and innovations in Enactus
Enactus is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring students to tackle global issues through socially oriented entrepreneurial action. It is a substantial movement (including 72,000 students in 36 countries in 2017) that takes action learning (Reason and Bradbury, 2001), service learning (Battistoni, 2017) and experiential learning (Kolb, 2014) into the (social) entrepreneurship arena. Students execute community development projects and then compete against other university teams in project-based competitions regionally, nationally, and globally. At its core, Enactus embodies the idea that ‘now’ is the prime opportunity to engage in social entrepreneurship, and its potential benefits can positively impact student and societal beneficiaries simultaneously. Enactus is characterized by relatively short bursts of focused activity and has at this point, attracted limited research attention. In this chapter we reflect on the scholarly basis of the connection component of Enactus, focusing on the value of networking in fostering social entrepreneurship. We present a simple but powerful case where we led 12 students on an international educational trip to Ireland for two weeks, meeting with three other university Enactus teams and presenting at an entrepreneurship education research conference. The case illustrates the rapid benefits of relatively brief ‘real world’ (social) entrepreneurship programs, and the value of leveraging partner Enactus organizations to experience another culture’s view of social entrepreneurship education in action. Prior to two years ago, students at the College of Idaho (U.S.A.) had limited exposure to social entrepreneurship in any capacity. To increase enrollment and student engagement in social entrepreneurship at the College of Idaho we created a Social Entrepreneurship Education Program (SEEP). SEEP includes a new social entrepreneurship concentration for business majors, a suite of six SE courses, local service-learning projects, an international education trip, and a recognized Enactus student chapter on campus. Implementation of SEEP resulted in Enactus membership increasing from 4 students the previous year to more than 26 actively engaged members. Enactus serves as the prime platform at the C of I to engage students outside of the classroom resulting in stronger student–faculty relationships, and greater interest in the SEEP overall.
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