Some business Ducks spent a productive month across the pond this summer, and organizers plan to continue and expand the Lundquist-London learning connection.
Eighteen students gathered in the UO’s London facility for discussions from late July to late August, with lots of speakers, site visits, and cultural opportunities built in.
Lundquist College Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Programs Collette Niland and Senior Associate Director for Career Development Chris Bennett offered the four-week course titled Social Entrepreneurship: Global Studies in the British Context, which counts toward BA 199 credit.
“We were looking at ‘How do you create social change and social innovation using entrepreneurial principles that make those changes sustainable and less dependent on traditional sources of funding?’” Niland said.
Themes of the course included “wicked problems” that are difficult to solve due to their scope, complexity, cost to solve, interconnection to other problems, or a fundamental misunderstanding of the issues. Design thinking and scaling impact were also covered.
“We want students to be able to draw on a number disciplines simultaneously, not just business or science,” Niland said. “We want them to start to understand how you take a complex system, examine the nodes of that complex system, then identify the nodes that can be leveraged, specifically those that can affect change.”
The course was not limited to business students and was offered through the University of Oregon’s study abroad office, Global Education Oregon. Excursions included the British Museum, Cambridge, Impact Hub Brixton, and Bioregional—an environmental consulting firm with its own “eco-village” of sustainable housing.
Guest speakers included
- Martin Upham, author and former director of London programs for UO partner AHA International’s study abroad program;
- Alexander Knapp, founder and principal consultant at AKC Global and a leading mind in complex system theories;
- David Prais of Funding London and partner organizations;
- Stephen Robertson, CEO of the Big Issue;
- Christopher Cook, a broadcaster and expert on the arts;
- Hettie Wetherill and Lauren Armstrong of the International Centre for Social Franchising; and
- Mel Fisher of Escape the City.
Integrated into the course was the Wicked Problem Cumulative Project, which prompted students to apply course concepts by first identifying, defining, and understanding a particular problem in the British context, and then to design a social enterprise to address their chosen problem. Working in teams, students developed and pitched plans to tackle homelessness, childhood obesity, prison crowding, immigrant skills development, and support for people with disabilities.
The impact of the course, especially the guest speakers and site visits, was profound for some students.
“The curriculum absolutely swayed my career plans in an entrepreneurial and global way, as well as giving me a comprehensive understanding of a rapidly growing industry,” said Will Paustian, an undergraduate student studying business administration. “I would recommend this program to any student with international or humanitarian career aspirations.”