Students from India, Kenya, Columbia, Ukraine, Romania and China are learning what it takes to be a changemaker in a three-week intensive course on social entrepreneurship at the Barrie Campus.
The course, which launched earlier in July, was developed collaboratively between Georgian’s Centre for Changemaking and Social Innovation, the Segal International Centre, and the Business and Management area at the college.
Professor Kelly Duggan developed the curriculum and faculty member Megan Kirk Chang is teaching the first cohort. Siddhant Taneja, a Programming Support Assistant in the Segal International Centre, is organizing complementary cultural activities each week to enrich course outcomes.
Activities include participating in an empathy workshop, engaging in a social hack, a trip to Amazon in Toronto to learn about its business model, a tour of a landfill and a component on climate change, a rapid prototyping workshop led by Georgian’s Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre, and more.
“There are 14 students from six countries visiting us for the three-week course,” said Kirk Chang. “We have a 44-year-old student from Kenya and a 16-year-old student from Ukraine, just to give a sense of the incredible diversity of experiences and people enrolled in the course. We’re well into it, and the ideas, passion, and commitment from these students to create solutions to the world’s most pressing problems are inspiring.”
Kirk Chang added that they have a room full of changemakers and she’s excited to watch their ideas take flight: “It’s an honour to be a part of an academic institution that supports 21st-century skill development like empathy, social innovation, and changemaker education.”
The students’ first assignment was to develop a poster presentation on one of the United Nations sustainability goals that interested them the most. They’re also working on pitch presentation skills and creating a vlog – video blog – about how they see themselves as changemakers.
“I’ve learned so much in such a short time,” said Erastus Ndunda, from Kenya. “Social entrepreneurship is not widely known or adopted in my country. There are so many pressing issues in Africa, and most businesses today focus solely on being profit-driven and largely ignore the needs of the community. This course is a springboard for me to go back to Kenya and help my community consider a new way to do business, and that is through social enterprise where profit is reinvested into our community and environment – for the good of everyone.”
Using a human-centred design approach that puts people at the centre of everything – from brainstorming and conceptualizing, to development and implementation – students are currently working on defining a social issue and ideating solutions they’ll pitch on the final day of the course.
“The team behind this pilot course has put a lot of thought and energy into making this an inspiring and applicable experience for our students,” said Kirk Chang. “The hope is they’ll take everything they’ve learned back to their home country and apply their leadership skills too, in their own way, make a difference.”
Kirk Chang added that they’re planning to offer the course on an annual basis and will be promoting it to everyone. “The hope is that a combination of domestic, international, and exchange students will participate allowing for a collaborative and diverse experience.”
Photo: Erastus Ndunda is learning all about social entrepreneurship in Georgian’s first-ever Global Leadership and Changemaking course. He hopes to bring what he’s learned back to his home community in Kenya to help them consider a new way to do business. (Georgian College / Doug Crawford).