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Education meets social enterprise as an increasing amount of universities and training programs are finding ways to implement social enterprise into their operations and curriculum. A new generation of social entrepreneurs are being bred through these programs with the hopes that they can make the most of their education in their path to becoming social change makers. Gone are the days that business students are known for only being focused on the finish line and the corporate ladder; an increasing amount of students are taking courses that incorporate social enterprise into their learning.
Earlier this year, the University of British Columbia was given the designation of being Canada’s first Fair Trade Campus, following Vancouver’s recent recognition as a Fair Trade City. Coffee, tea and chocolate bars that are available at UBC are all ethically purchased and fair trade. Around the world, 100 global universities have already made the commitment to make their campuses fair trade, with UBC jumping on board, the hope is that other Canadian universities will participate, as well.
Yet it is not just here in North America; a new trend of an increasing amount of fashion schools and universities are coming up in Sri Lanka. In fact, it is this trend that has led to Charini Suriyage being the first Sri Lankan to present her designs at London Fashion Week. It is the these possibilities that are allowing young people who may not have had those opportunities before to be able to step outside of the poverty circle or make changes to their communities.
Another example of education meeting social enterprise is a new trend amongst MBA students who are using their finance and entrepreneurial skills to do social good through socially-responsible businesses. A report done by MSNBC found that an increasingly large number of business students, from top-tier schools like The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, are choosing courses with the ultimate intention to start a career in the social enterprise sector. With the help of their schools and international institutions such as Ashoka, a not-profit that helps social entrepreneurs use the business-model approach to solve social problems, these students are finding ways to utilize their education to feed their desire to create positive social change.
This trend goes one step further as universities such as the Hult International Business School are offering a master’s degree in social entrepreneurship. Other examples of such initiatives are the Program on Social Enterprise at Yale’s School of Management, the centre for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke’s Fuqua business school, and the Global Social Venture Competition, a collaboration between the University of California-Berkeley, Columbia University, the London Business School, France’s ESSEC, and other partners around the world.
Whether it is through an established university here in North America or a brand new institution in a developing country such as Sri Lanka, social enterprise is finding ways to implement itself in education institutions around the world. The future of society depends on these social change makers rising up and creating businesses that work to meet the triple bottom line.