Studying Social Entrepreneurship

Students at Leuphana University of Lüneburg are looking at the relationship between social commitment and entrepreneurial activity. They are developing their own ideas, are testing them in practice and are establishing initiatives. The students’ activities are supervised by Junior Professor Dr. Markus Beckmann. He is the first Professor of Social Entrepreneurship appointed in Germany.

Entrepreneurial activity and social benefits

Markus Beckmann views entrepreneurial activity not only as a driving force in profit-oriented enterprises, but also as a useful tool for non-profit organizations or for the public, social and cultural sector. “This is why we need creative minds and people providing ideas who act as so-called social entrepreneurs and who are able to identify potentials for innovation and to provide sustainable solutions to social or ecological problems by adopting entrepreneurial approaches,” explained Beckmann. The topic of social entrepreneurship is met with great interest among students. Seminars offer them an insight into this field and give them the opportunity to practice social entrepreneurship within the scope of their own projects. A so-called Social Change Hub (SCHub) gives them the opportunity to do so. Apart from offering different workshops, this platform provides individual advice and coaching to students, arranges internships for students and provides networking contacts.

Social change means change of society

SCHub brings together theory and practice, says Beckmann. “Of course, we provide theoretical input to the field of social entrepreneurship. But above all, we give students the opportunity to act as social entrepreneurs – for example in projects, associations and (social) enterprises.” This concept works out: students develop their own solutions to problems for partners in practice, or they develop their own workshops, flyers, videos, and websites. The experience of success is as important as the experience of dealing with conflicts and time pressure. The results are certainly something to be proud of. For example, some students have established a branch office of Viva con Agua, a tap water initiative, in Lüneburg. Others have further developed the idea of so-called neighborhood gardens. The “Amikeco“ student initiative fights for more tolerance and for the rights of tolerated foreigners at Leuphana University and in Lüneburg. In live case studies, students entered into discussions with representatives of social entrepreneurial organizations, such as “Children for a better World”, a child welfare organization, or “Das macht Schule”, a Hamburg organization. Within the scope of a project seminar, students also organized a three-day conference: AnSCHub 2010.

Awards and continued funding

In the course of its “Dies Academicus” celebrated this summer, Leuphana University awarded a lecture prize to the seminar entitled “AnSCHub 2010: Social Entrepreneurship – Communication, Moderation and Documentation of Interactive Days of Dialog between Scholarship, Practice and Students” for its innovative lecture format. Future funding of the SCHub has been secured. After a successful pilot phase, this platform will now be funded by Leuphana for an additional two-year period. Until 2013, activities will particularly be focused on further developing the workshops and on continuing networking with partners in practice. The next live case study has been scheduled for the winter semester. Then students will travel to Hamburg to visit “Dialog in the Dark.” This social franchising company brings together blind people and non-vision impaired people in 35 countries and has just been awarded the Special Prize of the German Founder’s Award.

Further information

Social Change Hub: