5D.3 Teaching Environmental Entrepreneurship

Friday, 13 November 2009: 2:35 PM
Jonatan Jelen, The New School,, New York, NY; and A. Scott and K. R. Foster

We address the question, "What models can help faculty integrate entrepreneurship into the science curriculum?" by analyzing our own experience with social entrepreneurship. For the past six years, NOAA's EPP has supported our teaching social entrepreneurship in an interdisciplinary partnership with faculty in management, engineering, and earth science. This has produced a nonprofit venture, which we call Greenproofing. Greenproofing is developing into a self-sustaining organization with a stream of revenue sources and impressive local recognition. The key element of our success has been envisioning this organization as a socially entrepreneurial venture.

In our experience there are several distinguishing areas for a social entrepreneurship course at a university with students from historically under©\represented backgrounds. Since students are typically working-class, we must work hard to convince them that it is even feasible for a college graduate to found her own nonprofit venture. We must provide a wealth of casestudies in demonstration. We have found that our students, many of whom are from non- English-speaking backgrounds, need help with the grant writing process and overall communication. Many of our students tergiversate between cultures and communities; they must learn to share their passions with varied audiences. These insights from the six-year evolution of our program have allowed us to articulate three specific directions with tangible deliverables for the next cycle of our activities:

a) We are expanding our notion of social entrepreneurship to include social©\valueintensive for-profit ideas. To continue attracting students ¨C and consequently patientcapital investors ¨C to high social-value-productive ventures in this post©\recessionary capital accumulation crisis, we need to reconcile the dissonance between for-profit and not-for-profit.

b) We are realizing that the notion of the "business plan" is increasingly inadequate. Students will be called upon to interact with public institutions for funding due to the rapidly expanding economic presence of government as it is trying to stabilize and rechart aspects of our technological development. Students have to learn how to articulate their attractive ideas for an audience beyond the traditional financial-capital investor.

c) Learning how to conceptualize, design, and implement social-value-creating ventures requires hands-on experience. Beyond the formal academic grounding, social entrepreneurship is a field experience. We have promoted links with local nonprofit and social-justice groups to provide students with practical servicelearning experiences. Our students immediately apply in our communities what they learn in our classrooms.These successful social entrepreneurs provide models and mentors.

We believe that this model can be successfully applied in other universities. .194 on 10-2-2009-->

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