The emerging nature of social enterprise and social innovation means learning often happens at the coalface, rather than in the classroom.
But that shouldn’t exclude traditional educators from the social innovation space. At least, we hope it doesn’t – because CQUni has spent the past seven years growing our role in the social enterprise ecosystem and exploring how we can best prepare our students for tomorrows challenges.
We’ve learnt from successes – and mistakes – as we’ve developed new ways for higher education to grow into changemaker education.
So, can tertiary study have a role in your social entrepreneurship journey? Here are the three things that our experience with local and international projects, partners, and students, has proven mandatory.
Any uni that wants to help support and up-skill social innovators, while nurturing the next generation’s social entrepreneurs, needs to hit these marks.
1. Taps you into a global network
Every social entrepreneur knows the importance of their ecosystem – and for education, it’s got to be global.
Since 2017, CQUni has been recognised as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus – the only Australian representative in an international group of educators advancing interdisciplinary, entrepreneurial, and solutions-oriented skills development.
Our commitment to changemaking has given our students opportunities to work on social impact projects around the world.
And it’s connecting our communities to global leaders – for instance, as we present the Sustainable Futures: Real Strategies for People, Planet, Profit through November 2019. The expert tour features Professor Jay Friedlander Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business at fellow Ashoka U institution, College of the Atlantic in Maine, NE, USA.
Jay has taught sustainable business skills in hands-on sessions around the world, and in November he’s touring Melbourne, Brisbane, Yeppoon and Mackay, to help skill up our communities. Jay’s innovative approach has delivered benefits for Samsø, the world’s first carbon-negative island off the coast of Denmark, and for the rapidly-growing renewables sector in Texas.
Workshops will support participants to strategically embed the UN Sustainable Development Goals across their operations, and grow abundance across business, social enterprise, and not-for-profit.Featured by TEDx, Standford Social Innovation Review, MIT and the New York Times, Jay brings a unique chance to level up your business processes, informed by changemakers globally.
The tour, and CQUni’s global network, also paves the way for future international events in Australia. CQUni is a proud supporter of the Brisbane bid to host the Social Enterprise World Forum.
2. Offers agile options that meet you where you’re at
Years of working with and educating changemakers has taught us that one single social innovation program can never be everything to every social entrepreneur or changemaker.
So if an institution is offering one-size-fits-all education for social enterprise – don’t believe it!
Our determination to meet educational needs across the changemaker spectrum has seen CQUni gradually build our suite of study options in social innovation, from our entry-level iChange micro-credential program, to the six-month Graduate Certificate in Social Innovation, and our Bachelor and Master of Business majoring in Social Innovation.
Like international leader Glasgow Caledonian University, renowned for its short course offerings up-skilling corporate leaders for social change, CQUni builds around the schedules of busy entrepreneurs.
All our social innovation courses are offered online, and with part-time and full-time loads, and options to join practical human-centred design projects, partnering with community organisations across CQUni’s national footprint.
3. Drives theory in practice, not just preaching
While the social change movement is still growing, social innovation should not be for the select few.
CQUni truly believes in the transformative power of social innovation, as a practice and as a mindset for social change. So we want to spread that stuff around!
I’m leading the project to embed social innovation theory and practice right across CQUniversity’s diverse curriculum, whether in Environmental Science or Construction, Health or Hairdressing. This is not window-dressing for us, it’s driven by our new CQUniversity strategy and our vision for the future.
Social innovation is not limited to curriculum development, it is also changing how our people approaches teaching, sustainable practices, community engagement, and problem-solving across CQUni.
The result: a huge and connected cohort of students and staff who understand and can apply social change principles, initiate human centred design and social enterprise opportunities and bring their experience to transforming current projects, and to their future workplaces.
It’s powerful, and there’s plenty of pathways to be part of the transformation.