Social entrepreneurs are individuals who take on society’s most pressing problems, seeking innovative and sustainable solutions. To do this, social entrepreneurs need both understanding and judgment, skills and stamina, and imagination and critical reflection. These qualities are fostered through study in the basics of entrepreneurship, study of an issue through multiple disciplinary perspectives, and extended personal reflection on goals and opportunities. The curriculum for the Major in Social Entrepreneurship combines business courses and issue-focused tracks in the liberal arts. As part of the curriculum, Social Entrepreneurship majors will do service learning, an internship, and an extended project in the senior year. Through these components, the liberal arts and entrepreneurship content is integrated with the experience and service that characterizes the practicing social entrepreneur.
Belmont University’s Social Entrepreneurship Program prepares students to engage and transform the world through the formation or expansion of ventures that create social change. Our Social Entrepreneurs will be grounded in faith and values, shaped through experiential education and practical experience, and informed through the knowledge and skills drawn from diverse academic areas of study.
The Belmont Model for Social Entrepreneurship:
Belmont University’s vision and mission statements provide a supportive framing context for a first of its kind major in the nation in Social Entrepreneurship. The vision of “bringing together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service” is fruitfully enacted in a social entrepreneurship program. Social entrepreneurs need a skill set, an ability to think creatively, and practice in solving problems. Belmont’s mission provides a strong envelope for this kind of program. At a university that seeks to “enable students to engage and transform the world with disciplined intelligence, courage, compassion, and faith,” a Social Entrepreneurship major offers the tools for such an adventure. By defining a program of study that encompasses the skill set, dispositions, and liberal arts content necessary for social entrepreneurship, Belmont provides the grounding in “disciplined intelligence.” The university context, service and service learning initiatives, and co-curricular activities help develop the “courage, compassion, and faith” that provide the meaning and value of entrepreneurial activities.
The Social Entrepreneurial Skill Set:
Using sophisticated written and oral communication skills and critical thinking skills developed in general education, students will be able to demonstrate competence in each of the following skills essential to entrepreneurship:
- Opportunity assessment.
- Team building, leadership.
- Negotiation skills.
- Use of basic business skills to further social goals: organization, resource development, planning, growth, management, and economics.
Key Learning Goals:
The Major in Social Entrepreneurship has five main objectives that serve as the heart of its program and that are taught to all majors, no matter what track they elect for their special focus.
Ethics and values - Students will understand basic ethical principles for business and for working in community and will demonstrate the ability to integrate values into all processes and to be responsibly engaged with communities. Students will also examine their own personal values and aspirations as they relate to their goals as social entrepreneurship majors.
Cultural, Political, and Social Understanding-Students will acquire an understanding of social, political, and cultural frameworks, will demonstrate the ability to apply this knowledge to the assessment of issues and problems, and to use this knowledge in making responsible judgments about issues and problems.
Project planning – Students will be expected to develop a full understanding of how to create and utilize a project plan that includes sustainability.
Managing and Sustaining an entrepreneurial initiative – Students will learn the unique set of skills necessary to guide a project through periods of both growth and decline.
The curriculum for the major will be offered as a 45 credit hour B. A. or B. S. degree, to undergird the liberal arts framework central to the major but combine business courses and thematic tracks in the liberal arts. Students in this major will complete a seminar sequence of 9 credit hours to integrate the professional and liberal arts components of the major which includes service learning, an internship, and an extended community-based project in the senior seminar, thus linking the learning of the content with the experience and service that characterizes the practicing social entrepreneur. The student will complete 18 hours in entrepreneurship and 18 hours in a select thematic track (Economic Development, Global Social Entrepreneurship, Contemporary Social Issues, Faith, Culture, and Ethics, or Environmental Studies).