Growing Together: Student Reflections on Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship

As we wind down another semester, particularly one as eventful and intense as this fall has been, it’s important that students are given structured opportunities to reflect on the meaning of their learning experiences. 

Foundations of Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship (ISS 3241) is a required course for students pursuing this field through the SIE Specialization and Secondary Concentration in COSSPP’s Interdisciplinary Social Science Program and the SIE Minor in the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship. It provides a comprehensive overview of the emerging field of social innovation & entrepreneurship (SIE), examining how it promotes a human-centered and adaptive framework for addressing social and environmental problems at a systemic level using innovative approaches that are empowering, impactful, sustainable, and scalable.

As part of their reflective dialogue throughout the semester, students participate in weekly discussion boards and write several reflections. Below are final reflections from two students this semester that provide insight into their learning experiences, growing understanding of the complex world around them, and visions for how they’ll leverage their talents and passions in service to that world.

This semester has been a whirlwind for me. Not being on campus with classes was harder than expected and trying to maintain my responsibilities while quarantining as much as I can in my home. But this course was a light to my semester. Throughout the semester, I immersed myself every week into the social issues around the world and gained a new perspective that I didn’t have before. I began to understand how poverty is not a result of lack of money, but a lack of education, lack of access to clean water, lack of access to medical care, clean energy and so much more. The issues like poverty grew into this expansive web that showed me how multifaceted issues can be, but as the web grew, so did my hope for effectively finding solutions. You see, when I began to see poverty as a systemic issue and not a single issue, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is because if you can help introduce clean water through co-ops, for example, then you can bring income, education, and health to an impoverished community and provide a new way of life! It was incredible to witness that throughout the course.

I won’t lie, seeing the successful organizations that were detailed throughout this semester like Kuapa Kokoo and Kouzin Dlo brought brightness to the bombardment of bad news we seem to experience every day in 2020. What I will take from ISS 3241 is the “human-centered process for addressing social and environmental problems at a systemic level.” Learning to place people at the center of solutions to any issue I may encounter in this world is what I believe can make the world a better place. My goals in life have changed because of this class. I just know whatever path I take after college, whether it be embarking on my own entrepreneurship journey or working for another company, I will place myself where the focus is improving the world like Natura & Co. (the company I did a case study on). I believe there is a world where innovation, self-gain and desires, and giving back to communities/the environment can coexist.

We can all grow together.

Mariana Valencia is a senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences with a Secondary Concentration in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She serves as PR Director for DWF Magazine on campus, which focuses on showcasing the diversity of the FSU student body.

The feature image is from Pexels.

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