Tuesday, Sep 06, 2022 • Herb Booth : Contact
Last spring, adjunct professor Suzanne Smith and a group of students from her “Social Entrepreneurship” class met for dinner at Café Momentum, a social enterprise restaurant in Dallas.
In many ways, Café Momentum, which doubles as a culinary training facility that provides at-risk youth with life skills, education, and employment opportunities, embodies the spirit of every lesson Smith seeks to provide her students.
“Social entrepreneurship has its roots in the broader field of entrepreneurship, but it differs in the fact that social entrepreneurs have a primary goal of creating social value rather than personal or shareholder wealth,” said Smith, whose class is in the College of Business’ Department of Management. “Social entrepreneurs are relentless in fashioning bold and creative solutions to create social change.”
Her course combines interactive lectures, classroom discussions and hands-on activities that expose students to concepts of social innovation and enterprise. Throughout, students are challenged with new ways of thinking to increase their self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making, all of which serve to make them better leaders and managers in their pursuit of making a positive impact in their communities.
Julie Cook (’19 MPA; ’13 BA, Communication) took the course in spring 2019. She said it gave her a practical understanding of how the theoretical concepts she had been studying could work in the real world.
“This course gave me the tools and confidence to apply these social-change concepts to work that I was already doing,” said Cook, who handles sponsorship operations at Salesforce. “Now, I’m more creative in my pitches to partners because I’m a better researcher and can synthesize strategy and goals.”
Smith, who is also founder and CEO of Social Impact Architects, said that the work of social entrepreneurs—or social intrapreneurship, for those working within companies—is essential to creating a society in which everyone prospers.
“I hope for the day when social entrepreneurship is no longer discussed separately from other forms of business or entrepreneurship, because every business impacts and determines outcomes for people in our communities,” she said. “We just want that impact to lead to positive societal return. I love giving my students the tools and knowledge to take their ideas and business to scale—with a positive outcome for all.”
-Written by Amber Scott, University Advancement


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