Social enterprises are businesses that exist with the specific purpose of solving social and/or environmental problems through trade. These enterprises merge the best features of business and the non-profit sector to create innovative solutions that address both social and market gaps. Within these enterprises, success is thus measured in social and/or environmental terms, in addition to financial sustainability.

This multidisciplinary subject has been developed in partnership with Unbound, a Melbourne-based social enterprise leading innovative education programs on social change through entrepreneurship across the Asia-Pacific region. The subject equips students with a critical understanding of social entrepreneurship, and provides them with a practical opportunity to develop their own start-up social enterprise. Groups will be formed according to personal interest and students will work in small project teams to conceptualise, develop and pitch a viable social enterprise initiative. Students are also expected to test their idea in the marketplace in real time, for example, liaise with external organisations to receive feedback on your product/service and/or develop a minimal viable product that can be showcased.

To support the development of ideas, the subject draws from case studies, field trips and guests speakers from the Victorian start-up ecosystem that share their personal experiences and advice as successful social entrepreneurs. Students will also have the opportunity to receive direct support on their idea during a feedback salon with academics, business leaders and social enterprise practitioners.

Upon completing this subject, students will develop a critical understanding of the nature of social enterprise in contemporary society and the practical requirements for developing sustainable social enterprise projects. The subject also uniquely provides students with the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world solutions in real time.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this subject should:

  • demonstrate a detailed, critical understanding of aims, practicalities and limitations of social enterprise;
  • demonstrate a detailed, critical understanding of the scholarship pertaining to social entrepreneurship;
  • apply rigorous methods of inquiry and appropriate methodologies to the field of social enterprise with intellectual honesty and a respect for ethical values;
  • work effectively as a member of a project team to devise, test and pitch a detailed business case for a social enterprise project;
  • communicate effectively with community groups, individuals and potential project stakeholders to identify and develop a social enterprise project; and
  • communicate the results of the project effectively to community, professional and academic audiences.

Generic skills

At the completion of this subject, students should gain the following generic skills:

  • advanced communication skills (written and verbal) and stakeholder management skills appropriate to professional contexts;
  • project management and business planning skills, including scoping projects, developing timelines and meeting deadlines;
  • task management; and
  • research and critical thinking skills as applied to a professional context.

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