Student Social Entrepreneurship: Academic Courses and Co-Curricular Support That Focus on the Creation of Sustainable Social Initiatives

Robertson Scholars Program student and staff headshotsInstitution: Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University

Background Experience: Tony Brown has taught leadership courses at Duke for 19 years and is co-director of the Hart Leadership Program. He is a Professor of the Practice and Co-Director, Hart Leadership Program and created the Enterprising Leadership Initiative ten years ago. Tony has extensive volunteer leadership experience in social entrepreneurship.  Prior to teaching, he was a corporate executive.


What pedagogies and support mechanisms result in sustainable social initiatives and contribute to students becoming lifelong socialchangemakers? Many university programs increase student awareness of and knowledge about social entrepreneurship.  As social entrepreneurship is defined to include real results that benefit others, there is a difference between student social entrepreneurship education and student social entrepreneurship. Fostering student social entrepreneurship is a significant opportunity because the outcomes include benefits to others and enhanced student efficacy, identity, and agency. It also is challenging because requirements include engaged students, nontraditional course designs, unusual faculty-student relationships, and post-course support mechanisms.  The Enterprising Leadership Initiative in the Hart Leadership Program at Duke University has a ten-year history of successes and defeats in integrating academic and co-curricular programs to support student social entrepreneurship.

Session Experience: The experience will include a live exercise in creating a specific social entrepreneurship idea; an outline of the ELI social entrepreneurship program design, theory of change, and pedagogy; and data, lessons learned, and questions.

Extending the Experience: After the session, participants will . . .“be able to apply portions of the model and pedagogy; apply one idea discerned from the conversation, and communicate and collaborate with me.”


Enterprising Leadership Initiative

ELI Projects

Hart Leadership Program