Spring 2012 Director’s Letter
|“In the spring, at the end of the day, you
should smell like dirt.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Spring is here and
it’s not just time to plant your garden (although that is an
admirable thing to do!). It is that time of year when the
University of Maryland students exude a sense of new beginnings
as they prepare for graduation and opportunity seems to blossom
just like nature around us.
This semester, the Center for Social Value Creation and our
university partners have given students many opportunities to
get their hand a little dirty – to learn how to apply
entrepreneurial principles and innovation to the social and
environmental issues they care most deeply about.
Some mentionable highlights include:
Enterprise Symposium– Attended by 1,200 students with nearly
50 guest speakers and 22 sessions presented stories of how
entrepreneurs, business leaders, nonprofit executives and public
servants are creating sustainable social change and gave
students new skills to use in their careers.
The Do Good
Challenge – Led by the School of Public Policy, Network for
Good, and Kevin Bacon’s Sixdegrees.org, nearly 100 student teams
competed to create as much good for a cause of their choice in
just 6 weeks.
Social Entrepreneurship Business
Pitch Competition – Since Fall, student entrepreneurs have been
pitching socially-minded business ideas to
entrepreneurs-in-residence— ideas with positive impact beyond
profit maximization and providing jobs. Five finalists presented
their business ideas to a panel of expert social
entrepreneurship judges to win $1250 of seed funding,
co-sponsored by the Dingman Center for
ACC Clean Energy
Challenge – Brought to UMD by Mtech at the Clark School of
Engineering and funded by the Department of Energy, the $100K
ACC Clean Energy Challenge is a new business plan competition
encouraging students from all universities throughout the
southeastern United States to develop business plans for new
clean energy companies focused on renewable energy, energy
efficiency improvements and advanced fuels/vehicles.
As I reflect on these many events and competitions, I am
motivated by the enthusiasm of our students to participate and
the aptitude of our faculty and staff to run them exceptionally
well. But I am also left to wonder if there is more to be done….
for it seems as if we might be stopping short of our students’
full potential, leaving unrealized opportunity on the table and
ceding too much to chance.
Yes, we need to build student awareness of social problems
Yes, we need to provide opportunities for students to become
in engaged in their community;
Yes, we need to frame the importance of giving back;
Yes, we need to create experiences that give rise to moments
of obligation, and
Yes, we need to teach students the process of venture
creation through business planning.
Its Joseph Schumpeter’s view of the entrepreneur in the
Theory of Economic Development that defines the entrepreneur as
an agent of change responsible for creative destruction that has
defined much of our economic progress in the last century. Is it
possible that this same kind of “creative destruction” thinking
is the right strategy for addresses a world full of increasingly
complex challenges? There are simply not enough philanthropic
dollars or government subsidies or incremental improvements to
existing products and services to create truly sustained social
change. At CSVC, we are continually working to this end in how
we teach social value creation in the classroom and build
experiences outside of the classroom.
We welcome new ideas and fresh perspective from our CSVC
community. And so, let’s not just get our hands a little dirty
but, at the end of the day, let’s “smell like dirt” in creating
new norms for the change that we want to see in the world!