Social entrepreneurship and its place in education for a socially just world.

Year: 2019

Author: Edwards, Debra, Keefe, Mary

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this paper we report on a mixed method study intended to clarify and define the nature of social entrepreneurship as it is experienced by three participant student groups at La Trobe University. Each student group participated in a professional experience study tour to 3 areas in India: the cities of Mumbai and Delhi and the tribal area of Pal, in the north-west rural regions of the State of Maharashtra. In particular we focus on the attributes and environmental contexts that can predispose social entrepreneurship in young people and the two–way learning that can occur in short in country programs involving a complex humanitarian context.

Social entrepreneurship is an area of growing interest in the provision of social services such as education. Issues such as poverty, abuse, neglect, environmental degradation and students with disabilities challenge rigid approaches to learning and school culture. Increasingly, schools and community organisations are encouraged to introduce innovative approaches to funding and service delivery while maintaining values and outcomes related to personal and professional growth, learning and development. Yet, little is known about how individuals and organisations such as schools and community centres can drive and sustain desirable social change. If we are to argue that more sustainable and innovative approaches are required in education where the principles of social justice, empowerment, innovation and good business complement each other in positive and constructive ways (Lackeus, 2015), then it is equally important to understand, identify and develop social entrepreneurial qualities in education programs.

Educational entrepreneurship is poorly defined in the literature as a sub set of social entrepreneurship (Yuan Gu, 2016) yet it differs significantly from the economic orientation of generic entrepreneurial activities. Educational social entrepreneurship has the capacity to enhance innovative and personalised approaches to student motivation, learning and autonomy so that school structures can become more responsive to diverse student and environmental needs.