Can social entrepreneurship be taught? Regardless of your take on the matter, the Transformative Action Institute (TAI) believes it can. And they have the numbers to back it up.
The Transformative Action Institute’s mission is to educate the next generation of social entrepreneurs – the next Gandhi’s of our world, if you will. TAI was co-founded by Dr. Scott Sherman and Randy Parraz in 2005 when they won the Echoing Green award for being the “world’s best emerging social entrepreneurs”. They started out by piloting a course at UCLA to teach the skills and strategies of transformative action and social entrepreneurship to 35 students. In addition to Theyteaching their innovative approach for change, the course offered a “model of transformative education with exercises for inspiring, energizing, and empowering students.”
The inaugural course at UCLA was a major success with 100% positive responses from students. Students’ feedback included:
- 100% of the students felt more motivated and interested in pursuing social justice/change work as a career
- 100% of the students felt more likely now, than before the class started, to engage in social change/social innovation projects on and off campus
- 100% of the students now planned to pursue a career in the field of social change or social innovation post graduation
With such success, the course expanded to over a dozen other top universities, including Princeton, NYU, Yale, Johns Hopkins, and UC Berkeley. By next year, the course will have been taught on 20 campuses.
Recently, we were privileged with the opportunity to interview Shan Gupta, the Director of University Programs for TAI. We asked him about what differentiates TAI’s approach to teaching social entrepreneurship curriculum from more conventional programs. For one, he believes that teaching social enterprise requires transforming the curriculum into a highly experiential learning environment, which is not simply lecture based. TAI’s vision is to get their course onto 200 campuses within the next 5 years, which is all part of their initiative called, “Transform America”.
Through utilizing the platform of university classrooms across the U.S. Transform America aims to reach an entire generation – to train hundreds of thousands of people in the skills of transformative action and social entrepreneurship. And it seems like TAI’s work is receiving a very positive response. Even Cornell University’s “CRESP Center” was so inspired by TAI’s innovative model for change, that they changed their title to “ The CRESP Center for Transformative Action”.
TAI is running full steam ahead with the Transform America initiative, while also providing consulting and training to non-profit organizations and companies internationally.