Lisette Piedra, assistant professor of School of Social Work, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, researches social entrepreneurship. Here are a few notes I took from her presentation today at the “Race, Diversity and Campus Climate” conference.
Social entrepreneurship is a new term, still being defined. Entrepreneurs “always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity” writes Peter Drucker. They seek opportunities to create value; they see possibilities rather than the problems created by change.
The university environment represents a strong break from the environment in which many students have been raised. Remember these are young adults with limited life experiences. Plato wrote that education is the process of teaching our students to desire the right things.
As educators, we often want students to adopt our way of thinking. But our way of thinking has been shaped by our experiences. We can’t skip steps and expect students to adopt our way of thinking without having had enough life experience of their own.
Encourage diversity by “selling” the idea and showing that awareness of diversity helps one be more effective in life and in business.
My summary: Dr. Piedra presents a refreshing approach to changing the campus climate. I really enjoyed her tone as well as the content of her research and recommendations.