Students often take advantage of summer courses to receive credit in a compressed amount of time and effectively use block tuition. Those summer courses can sometimes be a little more creative in the way they are taught – even in deciding the location for the class. MGMT 320: Social Entrepreneurship is no exception to that rule. Social Entrepreneurship is taught at City Square in downtown Dallas by Dr. Laura Phillips over the course of five days. Business students are not the only students who take the class. Phillips says, “The social entrepreneurship course is appropriate for business majors and non-business majors alike. We’ve had students in the class who are studying art, English, architecture and political science – just to name a few. It’s also relevant for students at different points in their academic career. I’ve had students who just finished their first year of college in the class as well as students who are taking it as their very last class. It may seem overwhelming to squeeze an entire class into a week, but it’s an engaging and inspiring week!” We asked a couple of the students who completed the course to tell us a little about why they chose to take the class and what they took away from the week.
Ashleigh Price (’18) management major from Sunnyvale, Texas said, “I had one more class I needed to take to complete my degree and was really looking for classes in that last semester that focused on the field I wanted to go in to – poverty and development. It was convenient since I lived in Dallas and I had heard so many great things about it, so I jumped on it!” Jordan Eason, senior accounting major from Keller, Texas said, “I had always wanted to take this class, because I had heard from others that it was a great class. I am also very interested in social entrepreneurship from my time volunteering with various non-profit organizations.”
Tell us a little bit about the format of the class. What was a typical day like?
Jordan: “In the class, we had a lot of guest speakers come to us but we also went on field trips to businesses, too. A typical day included hearing from guests and then engaging in a lot of discussion to process what we were learning.”
Ashleigh: “There is no such thing as a typical day! Every day is special in its own way. The first and last days included a few speakers but we were also taking care of administrative tasks and assignments including group work. On Tuesday through Thursday, however, we had a networking lunch (Tuesday) and breakfasts (Wednesday and Thursday). We were able to sit down with the guest speakers and talk about our passions. We were also able to hear the coolest testimonies of business owners and people who are in prominent positions in large companies like Southwest Airlines and HKS. Every day, we had additional speakers along with the networking. In those sessions, we heard about real life situations and learned applicable skills to apply to our potential business models.”
Tell us about some of the speakers and/or experiences that stood out to you?
Jordan: “We visited a restaurant in Dallas called Café Momentum and heard from the entrepreneur that started it, Chad Houser. At his café, he employs and trains teens that have been in juvenile detention. His hope is for them to be placed in a job and leave the café once they finish the program. We actually were able to eat at the restaurant, which was named one of the top restaurants in Dallas. It was great to hear him talk about his mission and the passion he had for what he was doing.”
Ashleigh: “One of my favorite speakers was Todd Spinks who works for Southwest and possessed a love for people, wanting to unite them to work for good. Another was Chad Houser who runs Cafe Momentum which helps to rehabs kids, get them jobs, and gets them off the streets. There were others that I loved (and honestly all of them were really great) but these two people had a lot of impact on me.”
What was your favorite thing about the class?
Jordan: “My favorite thing about the class was getting to have conversations with the guest speakers. On two of the days of class, we were able to have breakfast with them. There was one guest to a table of 3-4 students, so we were able to have great conversations and ask them questions. The guests were all so kind to take that time out of their day to talk with us.”
Ashleigh: “The connections made and the subjects talked about – any and all things having to do with social enterprise.”
What surprised you the most about the class or any of your experiences in the class?
Jordan: “I learned a lot in this class, specifically of ways to help people without hurting them. It was surprising that different ways of poverty alleviation were useful in certain areas but not in others. We really learned how there is not a one size fits all solution and that was echoed by speakers through the week.”
Ashleigh: “I was expecting it to be a lot of work but it wasn’t like that at all. It was constructive and thought provoking. It reminded me a lot of Leadership Summit. It was basically a mini LS but it focused on doing good rather than leadership.”
Ashleigh went on to say that the class has, “Changed how I view poverty and what people in those situations need versus what I think they need. They know what they need better than I ever could. It showed me how much more diverse I need to make my friend circle. The class also confirms my love of this career path and it has given me tools to use in the future at either my own business or in a position with a company or organization.”
Social Entrepreneurship at CitySquare is pushing students to think outside the box and time again, they state how much they love the class. How about the professor? We asked Dr. Phillips a few questions about the course as well.
What is your favorite thing about teaching the class?
Dr. Phillips: “Almost every day one of the students makes a comment to me about how a particular speaker or a field trip has ‘blown their mind’. I think that’s my favorite thing about teaching the class. Some students are blown away by the inequalities that exist around them that they’ve never noticed before. For some students what blows their mind is the variety of creative ways people are using their business to achieve social impact in their community. For other students the most eye-opening aspect of class is the wide variety of backgrounds our speakers come from – the fact that there’s not a prescribed path to social entrepreneurship. I love being able to sit back and watch their eyes open up to a whole new world of possibilities.”
I know you have many speakers that come in to talk to the students. Who are some that have made a big impact on the students?
Dr. Phillips: “This question is hard to answer because the students have different favorite speakers. That’s one of the nice things about bringing in a wide variety. While they may appreciate and learn from all of the speakers, students typically really connect with a handful of our guests and who that is varies from student to student. A couple of speakers who are perennial favorites are John Siburt, President and COO of CitySquare, and Chad Houser, CEO and Executive Chef at Cafe Momentum. Both are charismatic, innovative, and inspiring and they motivate the students to have big dreams.”
What do you hope students will take away from the class?
Dr. Phillips: “I hope that students will leave class with the understanding that they can choose to do good through their business regardless of what that business is. I also hope they leave class with a set of tools and contacts that make them feel empowered and capable of launching a social enterprise – maybe soon, maybe not for 20 years.”
The College of Business seeks to inspire, equip, and connect students to honor God and bless others. We can’t wait to see what these students do to change the world. Any student wanting to learn more about the next offering for MGMT 320: Social Entrepreneurship can contact their academic advisor or Dr. Laura Phillips.