Every educational program is rooted in a set of assumptions about what is most valued. Here are ours: expressed as the abilities we want our students to acquire beyond the skills and techniques of social entrepreneurship and the passion they bring to SIS about service and societal betterment. We believe these are essential to equip students to grow and adapt along with this fast-moving field.
Understand context and apply theory.
It is important to understand the context in which social enterprises operate, and place them in the framework of theory and history.
• Our students study different schools of thought, in particular political economic theories that address the relationship between business and society, and ethical concepts that tackle the question of public and private sector social responsibilities.
• They also acquire an appreciation of the larger issues and challenges that historically and currently shape social change efforts.
• Finally, students are expected to grasp how the theories and concepts they learn are a lens to uncovering and understanding the root causes of the problems social enterprises seek to address.
Practice critical thinking.
The program's courses are intended to increase the critical thinking abilities of its participants. The field of social enterprise is trendy, and at times more characterized by catchy idealistic slogans than deep thought. We expect to attract students with a passion to promote social change and fight injustices. The program aims to help them be smart about what they are doing, by helping them understand the systemic nature of the problems they want to address, and use this knowledge to set priorities, find leverage points, appreciate time lags, and create lasting solutions that minimize backlash.
Look for evidence.
In our courses, students learn to distinguish evidence-based, proven practices from well-hyped management fads. Extensive study of real world cases throughout the program’s courses also provides an analytical frame of reference for students to take with them and apply to the situations they encounter after graduation. There are seldom clear cut right or wrong answers to case studies, but individual study and group debate about how to resolve complex situations will support the program’s objective of expanding the critical thinking abilities of its participants.
Awareness and reflection.
This ability is especially relevant to decision making in the absence of clear facts or precedent – a situation in which many social entrepreneurs frequently find themselves. In those cases decisions are often driven by ambitions, ideology, and personal values. Our program does not intend to prescribe any particular set of these, but it will teach the importance of awareness, reflection, and critical assessment with regard to these drivers of entrepreneurial actions.
Entrepreneurs are often known for their abilities to innovate by working around obstacles and creatively breaking through established constraints. To help our students identify appropriate boundaries when pushing the envelope on social norms and mores, the program gives ongoing attention to moral reasoning, the ethical dimensions of social enterprise, and the practical ethics of professional conduct.
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