Tuesday 8 January 2013

The University of Northampton was pleased to welcome Michele Leaman from AshokaU, a global consortium of the top 20 socially entrepreneurial Universities, on 20 December.

Senior Lecturer, Tim Curtis, is working with Michele to accredit the University of Northampton as a Changemaker Campus. Michele was accompanied by Rob Wilson of Ashoka UK and the purpose of her visit was to meet with a number of staff, students and academics who have contributed to the University’s social enterprise strategy so far.

This accreditation has involved detailed research into the activities and strategic focus of the University, ensuring that it has both the breadth and depth of resourcing, innovative ideas and entrepreneurial attitudes to join an elite group of universities.

Michele met with the Vice Chancellor, Professor Nick Petford as well as Chris Moore, Executive Dean for Social Enterprise and Sue Allan, Executive Dean for Student Experience, plus students and staff from all the Schools. She also entered into an international discussion with  Gulbenkian Foundation Social Entrepreneur in Residence in Milan, via the new Dialogue Café, as well as also experiencing the NVision 3D immersive visualisation unit at the Newton building.

The feedback from Michele’s visit was very positive and she was impressed by the breadth and depth of the University’s work on social entrepreneurship, even though it is still very early days. She liked the potential of the national project Inspire2Enterprise, as well as smaller student-led projects like Bag-in-Bag.

The field of social entrepreneurship education is growing rapidly with many universities adding courses and developing co-curricular programs. But beyond just keeping pace with this trend, the University of Northampton’s commitment to ‘ensure that every student has the opportunity to discover, work in, and even develop a social enterprise’ is ambitious, inspiring and incredibly rare.

Michele Leaman

The next steps for the University of Northampton is a series of interviews in San Diego in February, and if successful, we will be the first and only university in Europe to be designated a Changemaker Campus. It’s good to see the remit of the University’s strategy widen to exploring social problems, deepening our understanding of the ‘social’ part of the social enterprise strategy. There is much to do to involve more students in this, but those who are already involved in social entrepreneurship are fizzing with excitement at the opportunities.

Tim Curtis

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