Welcome to our course on social entrepreneurship in the liberal arts (INTD 0290). This is the fourth time I have taught this course, but it’s the first time in a fall/spring semester. I am thrilled to try some new ideas this spring with you all, the CSE’s inaugural Changemaker Class.
This 2016 Middlebury course has many antecedents, including a 2005 winter-term course on ‘Building the New Climate Movement‘ and a 2011 winter-term course, “21st-Century Challenges“in which the students crafted a vision for the Center for Social Entrepreneurship (CSE). In 2012, with the inauguration of the CSE, this course debuted.
What have I learned from all of this? First, that your generation of college students is keenly focused on finding solutions to great challenges: local, regional, and global. Indeed, ‘The Solutions Generation‘ is a good name for them. Second, the classroom is a wonderful forum for effecting social change, in ways that are humble and sometimes grand. Vermont’s own John Dewey was right: students learn by doing, and in the process get a handle on what it means to live in and build a democratic community. Finally, when all of this really goes well, college students in a liberal arts setting can make progress on the most important goal of the liberal arts: to begin to explore what it means to lead a life of meaning.
This is where the idea of social entrepreneurship comes in. As I have studied the idea over the past few years, I have come to the conclusion that social entrepreneurship is a great complement to the 21st-century liberal arts. I wrote about this several years ago; it is from the observations in that essay (summarized in this brief video and this animated lecture) that our class will begin. As you will learn, a new wrinkle in my current work is an idea I call ‘slow learning,’ which I will introduce as our class begins.
I look forward to all of this very much.