The Social Enterprise (SE) Practicum is the capstone of our 2-year masters program. It serves as a vehicle to personally integrate what students learn in their graduate coursework, consulting projects, study abroad, internships, and paid employment.
It does this by providing an opportunity for students to demonstrate their ability to apply what they have learned in the program in a situation that approximates aspects of the post-graduate professional activities in which they intend to engage. It is a bridge between fulltime graduate study and fulltime involvement in the world of social enterprise.
By the end of the practicum, students must demonstrate their ability to:
- Develop and execute a work plan that leads to a social innovation
- Move a situation from Point A to Point B, producing a resume-worthy accomplishment
- Make mid-course corrections and learn from your experience
- Build strong professional relationships with and draw upon the resources of faculty, Practitioner Affiliates, student colleagues, and external advisors.
The core of the Social Enterprise Program is creativity, breaking out of dysfunctional rules and practices, positive change, initiative taking, and innovation. The nature of a practicum project should reflect these values. It should also reflect students' professional identity, as expressed in the specialization they have designed and pursued.
Our program encourages students with a wide diversity of career interests to use the program as an incubator for their ideas about social change or new ventures that they develop during their graduate study through coursework and experiential learning. For this reason, the SE Practicum is intended to offer a significant degree of flexibility in both practicum subject and how it is carried out.
Practicum projects may be solo efforts or team endeavors, depending on the nature of the proposal. All students engaged in a practicum will meet periodically to both learn techniques that cut across the range of projects undertaken that semester, and to advise, coach, and support each other. Additionally, each practicum project must select an individual or small team of individuals from outside the SE Program to serve as project mentors.
Each student or team will conclude the project by presenting it to an audience of students, faculty and Practitioner Affiliates.
Because each student’s interests in this field are different, there is always a wide variety of practicum projects undertaken during this semester-long experience. Some students may create a new organization, build a prototype, apply a social enterprise technique to an existing organization, or lead a change effort. Some students will work in the U.S., some abroad. The common thread is that these are all hands-on efforts intended to result in doing something, in taking an action that leads to some form of societal betterment.
Practicum projects may involve producing a variety of real-world results:
- Employ your critical thinking skills to address a debated issue in the SE space (i.e., the role of prizes and competitions to drive innovation, the limits of applying private sector techniques) in a way that measurably influences debate in this field
- Develop a new method of use to practicing social entrepreneurs
- Build a prototype of a social innovation, applying what you have learned about design thinking
- Launch a new SE organization or venture
- Create an alternative “SE way” of addressing an important existing societal concern
- Solve a problem plaguing an existing organization
- Change a policy or practice to benefit an existing organization