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Faith Informing Social Venturing Internships

Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

Presenter: Andrea Smith Shappell

Professional Title: Assistant Director of the Center for Social Concerns
Director of the Summer Service Learning Programs and Theological Reflection

Institution: University of Notre Dame

Background Experience: Andrea Smith Shappell is responsible for teaching and administrating the Summer Service Learning ProgramSocial Venturing Internships with the Gigot Center, and other summer opportunities for students in the United States. The summer programs are three credit courses in theology, or business combined with theology, respectively, which center on an eight-week summer immersion experiences. She is an associate professional specialist at the Center, concurrent in theology. Shappell has contributed articles to the Journal of College and Character as well as a chapter in the book, Transformations at the Edge of the World: Forming Global Christians Through the Study Abroad Experience.


Melissa_PaulsenPresenter: Melissa Paulsen

Professional Title: Program Manager for Social Entrepreneurship and Adjunct Faculty Member in the Center at the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Mendoza College of Business

Institution: University of Notre Dame

Background Experience: Melissa Paulsen worked with Mendoza’s Dean Carolyn Woo, franchising business leader Frank Belatti, and former Gigot Center director, Dr. James H. Davis, to design and implement the Gigot Center’s unique undergraduate offering, the Microventuring Certificate Program. The program incorporates microenterprise development and microfinance theory along with practical skills and tools in a domestic and developing country technical assistance setting.  She has experience in nonprofit strategy, operations and consulting.  Prior to returning to academia, she worked in the insurance industry as a disability risk analyst and has previous experience in the accounting and communications industries.


Brinya_BjorkPresenter: Brinya Bjork

Professional Title: College Senior and Finance Major

Institution: University of Notre Dame

Background Experience: This past summer Brinya Bjork worked in the Boston offices of ACCION-USA as a MicroTest intern. As members of the Microtest Team, interns were responsible for gathering data that effectively quantified the impact of ACCION services. The analysis throughout the Microtest Outcomes Impact Survey process as well as the quantitative deliverables produced by the interns allows domestic microfinance businesses and academics to evaluate the success of micro-lending strategies and, thus, accredit effective tools that allow capital and financial services to transform lives and communities.


The summer Social Venturing Internships sponsored by the Center for Social Concerns and the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, combine one-credit of theology and two-credits of business.  The intersection between faith and social entrepreneurialism is explored through the foundational principles of the common good, human dignity, and solidarity in Catholic social thought which inform the students’ work with sites such as the Networking for Better Futures, Handcrafting Justice, and ACCION.

Session Experience: “After presenting information about our course, the session on “Faith Informing Social Entrepreneurialism” will include time for attendees to talk in dyads about how they integrate values and social entrepreneurialism on their campus—or how they would like to address the relationship between the two. We hope for a fruitful discussion from which we can all learn.

“We will present how Catholic social teaching principles such as the common good, human dignity, and solidarity inform the course content for the Social Venturing Internships. We would like to explore with those from other colleges and universities what values translate for a secular framework of reflection on social venturing experiences.”

Extending the Experience: “We will share resources from our syllabus that may be valuable reading beyond the conference. We would be happy to continue the conversation electronically, if there is interest.”


Social Venturing Internships

The Gigot Center

Center for Social Concerns