Social Entrepreneurship: Survival and Solidarity in a Globalized World

In May 2007, ECLA held its annual conference on the theme of ‘social entrepreneurship’. Social Entrepreneurship is a term used to describe financially self-sustaining initiatives that attempt to fill an unmet social need. The event was a great success, producing a number of viable student projects, winning a UNESCO award for education in sustainable development, and attracting interest in the possibility of publishing the proceedings. In order to build on the discussions which took place, faculty coordinators Catherine Toal and Rafael Ziegler organized a social entrepreneurship elective for autumn term, 2007. The elective is partly based on contributions to a collection of essays they are editing which developed from the annual conference, entitled Social Entrepreneurship: Survival and Solidarity in a Globalized World.

In contrast to existing studies in this field, which are generally management-oriented in focus, the book is targeted at a liberal arts audience, and accordingly seeks to bring alternative voices and perspectives to the topic. The methods and assumptions of the social entrepreneur are considered together with the merits of his or her non-specialized skills, which are transferable to both the business and the social spheres. The book also addresses the significance of social entrepreneurship in an increasingly globalized society. Issues considered includethe flexibilization of work and changes in the possibility of civic engagement.

The current course on social entrepreneurship at ECLA has a double function: it introduces to liberal arts students the possibility not only of integrating employment in the business world and active social engagement, but also of being the kind of scholar who can work across different fields. The syllabus is connected with the formational process of the book, as the second half of the course is reserved for the book’s contributors to present their papers in class. Students comment on these papers and participate in a forum that is intended to shape the editorial process.

Contributors whose work is featured in Social Entrepreneurship: Survival and Solidarity in a Globalized World include: Nir Tsuk (Ashoka), ‘A Brave New World? Social Entrepreneurship and the State’;Krzysztof Stanowski (Foundation Education for Democracy), ‘Dissident, Democrat, “Social Entrepreneur”? A Biographical Sketch’; Paola Grenier (London School of Economics), ‘The Idea of Social Entrepreneurship: Slogans and Stories’; Johanna Mair and Christian Seelos (IESE Business School, Spain), ‘Social Entrepreneurship: Innovative Approaches to Sustainable Development’; Rob Boddice (European College of Liberal Arts), ‘Forgotten Antecedents: Entrepreneurship, Ideology and History’; and Daniel Hjorth (Copenhagen Business School), ‘Citizens and Consumers: On Entrepreneurialising the Social’. The book features perspectives that range from the practical to the political aspects of social entrepreneurship and its historical and cultural contexts.

By Martin Lipman (‘08, Netherlands)

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