Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Social business becoming a bigger part of the academic world

Young people have a greater interest in doing good and changing the world than ever before, so the educational system is trying to adapt by making social enterprise a bigger part of business schools.

Leaders of business schools and Universities says it's relatively easy to get grant money for a social enterprise school, but it's harder to get good professors with a knowledge of this new field or partnerships in the under-developed world for hands-on learning.

From MSNBC, writer Roland Jones examines the growth in social enterprise schooling.

Business schools are racing to meet the demand for such “social entrepreneurship” programs. Observers say a growing number of schools are offering stand-alone social enterprise programs, or as part of a business school degree program.

There are several possible reasons for the growing interest in social enterprise programs, including the economic meltdown that eliminated tens of thousands of jobs from the financial sector and darkened the reputation of the banking industry.

But the current generation of young people also has a strong sense of social responsibility, said Thomas Moore, dean of the College of Business Administration at Northeastern, which has some 200 students enrolled in social enterprise programs.

“There’s a lot of interest in social enterprise at the business school, and I think it’s partly generational,” Moore said.

“These days students don’t want to wait; they want to make a difference now,” he said. “This is the curriculum that prospective students expect, and if you don’t give them the opportunity to get involved in it they will do it for themselves anyway.”

Scott Shrum, director of MBA admissions research at Veritas Prep, a test prep and MBA admissions consulting firm, agrees. He’s seeing more prospective students looking for schools with social entrepreneurship programs, and more business schools expanding their programs.

“It used to be that a business school’s social entrepreneurship program was just an office, but now it’s often a whole department,” said Shrum, co-author of “Your MBA Game Plan: Proven Strategies for Getting into the Top Business Schools.”

“The programs have become more robust and sophisticated, and they’re attracting big naming gifts, or endowed chairs,” he said. “So if you aspire to spending a semester abroad helping a coffee farmer in Africa get his or her business off the ground, you can. That kind of opportunity didn’t exist much before.”

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