Community Engagement as a Form of Social Entrepreneurship in Higher Education Curriculum

By Swanzen, Rika; Rowe, Craig Darrel | Journal of Community Positive Practices, October 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Community Engagement as a Form of Social Entrepreneurship in Higher Education Curriculum


Swanzen, Rika, Rowe, Craig Darrel, Journal of Community Positive Practices


Abstract: At an institutional level the "responsiveness to the needs of individuals and of society has become a key theme in university mission statements" (Breier, 2001, p 6). A resulting question more than a decade later is how many of these statements have been translated into sustainable actions? The link with the context of service-learning as a form of community engagement and the development of student employability through developing social entrepreneurial skills are made and related concepts that influence curriculum design are proposed in a conceptual framework. To understand all the influencing factors on the 'serving' university is necessary to consider the impact on curriculum development as this will inevitably effect acceptance and sustaining of changes. Embracing the framework of Appreciative Inquiry the authors then look at how service learning and field placements could be sustained in higher education institutions in South Africa, ending in concluded statements and questions for future research.

Keywords: social entrepreneurship; service learning; appreciative inquiry; community engagement; curriculum design

List of abbreviations:

CHE - Council for Higher Education

HE - Higher Education

CBOs - Community-based organisations

SL - Service-learning

HEQC - Higher Education Quality Committee

CE - Community Engagement

HEIs - Higher Education Institutions

NGOs - Non-governmental organisations

SA - South Africa

Introduction

Jones, Warner and Kiser (2010: 44) point out that with an ailing economy and ?strong public sentiment that change is needed on many fronts within our society and across the world, the phenomenon of social entrepreneurship has found new life and is flourishing within society as a whole and within higher education in particular?. Debate exists whether social entrepreneurship is a useful concept for application across disciplines within the academy; where such programs should be situated: alongside a business school, or if there is a better fit with the social sciences (Jones, Warner and Kiser, 2010). The aim of this paper is to provide a vehicle through which the multi- disciplinary aims of social responsibility within higher education (HE) can be integrated. A framework of concepts is derived at that will show the complex multi-dimensionality of this integration within the concept of community engagement (CE).

To approach a concept that at its very nature encompasses the needs of communities instead of the usual frameworks describing curriculum and disciplines brings together various important and seemingly disconnected concepts. This paper will address this complexity in the following ways. Firstly a framework will be proposed to highlight the various connected concepts around aspects of social responsibility and CE for integration into the higher education curriculum. Secondly an appreciative inquiry by the Manager of the CE office at MSA and an evaluation of an international field placement by a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Science will shine light on some practical aspects to consider. Thirdly the paper will draw from lessons learned to postulate questions for further research.

A framework of integrated concepts

The aim of the framework offered here is to offer an explanation of the background and context from which the outcomes of two enquiries to follow were done. It will therefore only receive some attention to show what should be the considerations for the HE curriculum, should a CE approach be integrated. It will also show where the authors see social entrepreneurship to fit.

A broad definition characterizes social entrepreneurship as "innovative social ventures, which may occur across non-profit, business, or government sectors... [and] social entrepreneurs as agents of change within non-profit organizations who create entrepreneurial solutions in the pursuit of organizational sustainability" (Calvert, 2011: 118). …

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