In response to the effects of the economic crisis, curtailed public budgets and the magnitude of future challenges, social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility (CSR) emerge as a key policy priority in the EU. They are sources of social innovation and a contributing factor to building up the innovation capacity and competitiveness of EU economies. This turns them into increasingly critical elements of the EU development strategy. Yet business and economics education and training does not adequately reflect this trend.
The interdisciplinary academic field of social entrepreneurship is not well developed in the EU. The term itself is often understood poorly or narrowly. The study of CSR is limited in terms of academic hours and content. The project is built on the rationale that for business to be motivated and able to achieve a social impact, the very content of CSR and Social Entrepreneurship as subjects in education would need to develop and business education needs to grow more responsive to what have until now largely been public agendas for dealing with the pressing challenges facing society.
The project has the overall objective to promote cooperation and exchange of good practices among relevant organizations from 7 Programme countries (Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, UK), in view of enhancing the quality and relevance of education in the field of social entrepreneurship and CRS, fostering social innovation and supporting the social impact and responsibility of business.
The specific objectives of the project are:
- to support research and best practices exchange in the field of social entrepreneurship, social innovation and corporate responsibility, in view of making business/economics education more relevant to sustainable regional and local development;
- to initiate cross fertilization between business/economics studies and sustainable development studies in order to develop an innovative curriculum that fully integrates the subjects of social entrepreneurship and CSR into business/economics and entrepreneurship education;
- to develop a model certification procedure allowing business to evaluate and certify the skills of volunteers that contribute to CSR initiatives;
- to maximize the impact of the integrated innovative curriculum by demonstration initiatives, training of trainers and the development of a pilot e-learning platform for training in CSR and Social Entrepreneurship;
- to contribute to the promotion of social entrepreneurship and corporate responsibility among business, society, media and education providers.
This project is a partner initiative involving 7 Higher Education Institutions, a NGO and 2 institutions providing non-formal education and professional training.
The activities of the project include development of intellectual outputs, transnational project meetings, sustainability activities, dissemination activities, a joint training of staff, and evaluation activities. The main project outputs and results are:
- Research report "Involvement of business in promoting sustainable development at the regional and local levels in Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Turkey and the UK";
- Compendium of good practices for corporate responsibility, social entrepreneurship, and social innovation;
- “Millennial Business Europe: Entrepreneurship for Sustainability” good practices electronic database
- Course syllabuses for Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development;
- Training/teaching materials for courses on Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development;
- E-learning platform with online courses for training in Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship;
- Model procedure for certification of skills and competences acquired by volunteers through participation in corporate responsibility initiatives;
- A Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship;
- Development of a label for business education “Business Education for Sustainability” (BEST);
- 7 national-level conferences “Business Education for Sustainability” in the 7 project countries.
The project’s intended longer-term impact is:
- to create public awareness of both the support needs and the potential of social business;
- to create an “image” of social entrepreneurship and social business as a pragmatic and solutions-oriented approach that is nevertheless oriented towards social action and change;
- to contribute to improving the visibility and credibility of social entrepreneurship and corporate responsibility, and to foster a more adequate understanding of this business field, including through research, sharing of good practices, and credibility enhancing labelling;
- to underscore and enable the importance of incorporating “social” business studies into mainstream education, in view of both building skills and changing the mindset of the future business leaders.