The “New Kid” on the University Block
Been wondering what people mean when they say “social entrepreneurship”?
Wonder no more.
by Angela Lewellyn Jones, Beth Warner, and Pamela M. Kiser
ith the convergence of an ailing economy, a
new generation of political leaders, and a
strong public sentiment that change is needed
on many fronts within our society and across the world,
the phenomenon of social entrepreneurship has found
new life and is flourishing within society as a whole and
within higher education in particular. Yet, there exists
some confusion and debate about the definition of social
entrepreneurship and whether it is a useful concept for
application across disciplines within the academy. There
are also questions about where such programs should
be situated within the academy. Do they belong in the
business school alongside entrepreneurship education?
Are they a better fit for the social sciences? Is social
entrepreneurship an interdisciplinary field of study or a
multidisciplinary field? This article seeks to shed light on
these questions by examining the origin and evolution
Angela Lewellyn Jones is an associate
of the term “social entrepreneurship” and its use by
professor of social justice, chair of sociology
and anthropology, and academic coordinator
practitioners outside the academy. Drawing upon this
of the civic engagement scholars program background, the article suggests a conceptualization of
at Elon University. social entrepreneurship that would situate it broadly in
the curriculum rather than limiting it to one discipline.
Beth Warner is an associate professor of
human services studies and coordinator Social Entrepreneurship and
of the nonviolence studies program at
Pamela M. Kiser is interim dean of the Social entrepreneurship is a term frequently used in
Elon College of Arts & Sciences and popular publications today. Recent articles in the New York
Watts-Thompson Professor of Human Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, USA Today,
Services Studies at Elon University. the Washington Post, and many others tell the story of a
44 July–September 2010 | Copyright © Society for College and University Planning (SCUP). All rights reserved.
Social Entrepreneurship: The “New Kid” on the
burgeoning field in which business practices (sometimes 2009). As social entrepreneurship education has grown
involving the creation of a sustainable revenue stream) within higher education, it has also developed broader roots.
meet social responsibility and a strong desire for social Once housed almost exclusively in schools of business,
change. In the past two years alone, there have been over social entrepreneurship courses and programs are now
1,000 news stories covering everything from conferences frequently linked with more intellectually disparate academic
focusing on the convergence of entrepreneurship and homes, including the liberal arts, general education, the
social responsibility (European Economic and Social social sciences, and professional educ