The Center for Social Value Creation at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business is enabling a movement to make "creating a better world through business," business as usual within the next generation. A small portfolio of graduate and undergraduate courses support students in this journey. Have a question, or want to share an idea for a new course? Let us know!
Undergraduate students can explore topics of social entrepreneurship, social enterprise, and ethics through a selection of courses offered at College Park, Shady Grove, and abroad.
BMGT389E: Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps
The Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps (MSEC) is a dynamic international internship program for undergraduate students to combat poverty in Latin America by supporting small community-based businesses. This unique study and internship program teaches the basic principles of social entrepreneurship through courses, case studies, discussions, and hands-on, practical experience. By applying skills learned in the classroom such as needs and feasibility analyses, effective marketing techniques, the fundamentals of accounting, persuasive communication, and more, MSEC students empower local organizations and small businesses through targeted consulting engagements. Students also learn to implement the micro-consignment model, a unique form of social entrepreneurship that incurs no risk for the entrepreneur and ensures that the consumers are provided with access to essential products, technologies and services, such as energy efficient stoves, solar-powered lamps, water filtration systems, and eyeglasses. Learn more.
BMGT289A: Social Enterprise – Changing the World through Innovation and Transformative Action
Thousands of individuals are inventing creative new approaches to social change, the tools of business to build lasting solutions. Where do social entrepreneurs come from? How do they develop their passion for changing the world? Can anyone become a social entrepreneur? This course looks at the history and theory of social change, reviews the skills, strategies, and ideas of effective change agents and gives students the tools to create a blueprint for their ideas for social transformation.
BMGT468U: Social Entrepreneurship Laboratory
The class will give students the opportunity to experiment with the essential principles of social entrepreneurship. The Social Entrepreneurship Laboratory will be an active learning environment to test hypotheses around the creation of social ventures and develop a deep understanding of the field in practice. Teams will iteratively test ideas and assumptions through experimentation, document results, incorporate feedback from key stakeholders, develop a minimum viable product, and present their solutions. In this way, we expect novel insights and truly creative models to emerge.The primary learning tool for this class will be experiments conducted in teams around solving a particular social problem.
BMGT468V: Business Models and Methods to Affect Social Change
(Part of the Social Innovation Fellows Program)
This course introduces students to the most effective methods of social change by looking at the social entrepreneurs, innovators and visionaries who are coming up with new methods of solving society's problems. Students examine traditional methods of activism as well as a new theory of nonviolent social change called "transformative action." The first few weeks of the course introduce the students to many case studies, and then the course reviews the skills, strategies, and ideas of effective social change advocates in the 21st century. Each student develops an original blueprint for social innovation: a creative proposal for solving a societal problem based on their interest.
BMGT468W: Social Innovation Practicum: Consulting and Venture Creation
(Part of the Social Innovation Fellows Program)
Working in teams of four or five, students immerse themselves in a social issue of common concern through a service practicum with a nonprofit organization or social enterprise. Student projects are developed in partnership with the organizations but the goal of the practicum is two-fold: 1) help the organizations develop a new entrepreneurial service or program to address a specific pressing social need in the community, and 2) provide students with a deep understanding of the root causes of a particular social issue and how such issues can be best addressed through entrepreneurial action.
BMGT496: Business Ethics and Society
Not offered every year
This course emphasizes a strategic approach by business to the management of its external environment. Students engage in a study of the standards of business conduct, morals and values as well as the role of business in society with consideration of the sometimes conflicting interests of and claims on the firm and its objectives.
BMGT 498I: South Africa: Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Contemporary South African Context
This winter-term course inspires students academically, professionally and personally by immersing them in the field of social innovation. The course includes visits to locally owned companies such as Bo-Kaap, Macassar Pottery and Hangberg Community. Also included are thought-provoking tours of Robben Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the former maximum-security prison where the late Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. Students are challenged to design creative, sustainable processes towards social change using multiple learning strategies, and develop a toolkit for innovative ideas through the SyNovation workshop. By the end of the course, students can articulate their own definition and approach to social innovation, and will have begun to develop the concepts, mindsets, skills, and relationships that enable them to become lifelong social innovators.
Social Innovation Fellows
The Social Innovation Fellows (SIF) Program immerses students in the role of entrepreneurship – and intrapraneurship – in driving positive social and environmental change through business. Students interact with social enterprises and nonprofit organizations to learn first-hand how individuals and companies can employ business principles to advance social, environmental and economic prosperity.
The program features a social entrepreneurship challenge, a crash course in lean startup methodology, an introduction to stakeholder theory, a blueprint project for social change, and an interactive consulting experience. Co-curricular programming that includes site visits, guest speakers and conferences complement the program and help students develop skills in the areas of sustainability, social enterprise and organizational structure, entrepreneurship, impact investing, impact measurement, and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Students leave the program with a resume-building consulting engagement or venture experience, and a deep understanding of how to affect issues of social and environmental importance through organizations both large and small. This is a highly interactive, experiential and dynamic program.
Dr. David Kirsch is the Faculty Champion for this program.
Curriculum: one-year program (counts toward Management major)
- BMGT468V (Business Models and Methods to Affect Social Change) - Fall
- BMGT468W (Social Innovation Practicum: Consulting and Venture Creation) - Spring
BMGT 468V - Business Models and Methods to Affect Social Change
This course explores the role of business in addressing social and environmental issues. Fellows are introduced to the concepts of entrepreneurship and intrapraneurship as effective methods of social change, receive a crash course in lean startup methodology, and explore stakeholder theory and theory of change in context to social enterprise and other business models.
The second half of the course Fellows work on developing a blueprint for social change - a longer, deeper dive into a social change issue that could be related to campus, the community, their country of origin, and more. Within this deeper dive , Fellows explore topics relevant to social impact, such as authentic CSR, impact and measurement, and accountability. Guest speakers from organizations such as Soap Box, Marriott, Honest Tea, Impact Business Leaders, and the World Bank Innovation Lab provide "in-the-field" perspective.
BMGT 468W - Social Innovation Practicum: Consulting and Venture Creation
Working in teams of four or five, students immerse themselves in a social issue of common concern through either consulting for a social enterprise, corporation or nonprofit organization, or by taking their blueprint project from the fall semester to the next phase of implementation.
Whether taking on a consulting project or expanding on the blueprint to create a new venture, the goal of the practicum is two-fold: 1) help an organization (either existing or self-created) develop a new service or program to address a specific pressing social need, and 2) provide Fellows with a deep understanding of a particular social issue and how that issue can be addressed using their business knowledge.
Fellows are required to attend two co-curricular activities each semester as well as attend the annual Social Enterprise Symposium in March. Students are also highly encouraged to network with organizations in the social enterprise space through exclusive opportunities provided such as conference passes and travel.
What SIF Students Say about the Program
"I was able to be inspired by a passionate professor who through the course has helped show the "Power of One" - one person, one idea, one moment, one itch, one fleet moment of passionate work. SIF has shown me a different way of doing business. A way that delivers social impact. We have been exposed to young change makers who are doing it currently. Delivering products that deliver a promise of change and benefit less fortunate members in our societies. I have learnt that it can be very simple ... but that it also requires work, passion, commitment ... and did I say passion! Passion! Passion! Thank you, Center for Social Value Creation and Dr. Kirsch, for ensuring this class continues for a very long time. If I had known about this class earlier, I would have taken it TWICE."
-Edmund Ottieno '17, Information Systems and Operations Management & Business Analytics
"I learned what it means to create a positive impact through business. A theory of change is the foundation to the process, which is as important as the final product. Through intellectually stimulating class discussions, Dr. Kirsch encouraged me to think critically about how businesses can create value by solving social problems. My favorite part of SIF was the inspirational guest speakers who shared their wisdom from their respective journeys of social entrepreneurship."
-Sarina Haryanto, Class of 2018, Supply Chain Management
"I've learned that business has a greater purpose than to simply return a profit; it has the ability to significantly impact our society for good, and solve those issues that are otherwise unsolvable."
-Adriano Backes Pilla, Class of 2019, Finance and Economics
Alumni of the Social Innovation Fellows program find themselves in a range of industries and organizations, and sometimes as the founders of their own enterprises. Here are just a few examples of the career connections our Fellows have made:
- Stephanie Cantor '12, Senior Associate, PwC, Cohort 1
- Ryan Steinbach '13, Marketing Manager, Impact Business Leaders, Cohort 1
- Lauren Kurtz '13, The Women's Lab, The Centre for Social Innovation, Cohort 2
- Evan Lutz '14, Founder & CEO, Hungry Harvest, Cohort 3
- Kushaan Shah '14, Senior Consultant, IBM Global Business Services / Founder of Social Rise, Cohort 3
- Garrett Zink '14, Social Responsibility, Marriott International, Cohort 3
- Daniel Kaufman '16, Advisory Associate at Grant Thornton LLP, Cohort 4
- Laura Miller '17, Consulting Intern, RSM US LLP, Cohort 5
- Must be a Business major (You may apply if you are in the process of applying to Smith as an internal transfer student.)
- Rising Junior or Senior (Sophomores with advanced standing will be considered.)
- Minimum 3.0 GPA
Applications are now closed for the 2017-18 academic year and will reopen in January 2018. Following will be the application requirements for the 2018-19 cohort (subject to change).
- Online application form
- Cover letter – Explains why you want to be a part of this program, what you can bring to the program, and what you hope to gain from participating. Address your cover letter to the faculty champion for this Fellows program.
- Note: Cover letter and resume must be submitted in pdf format.
Questions? Read our Fellows FAQs.
MBA students interested in topics of social responsibility and social entrepreneurship may explore elective offerings at the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore Campuses.
BUAC 758A: Governance and Accounting for Socially Responsible Entities
Faculty: Rebecca Martin
Meets Term A in Baltimore
This course introduces governance and accounting for the not-for-profit sector as well as government financial reporting and accountability. This course also examines the increasing expectations for corporate sustainability reporting. Detailed topics discussed related to not-for-profit entities include: their creation and structure, governance and financial accountability, tax challenges, and current issues and future trends. The information presented in the course prepares professionals for a variety of different advisory roles such as board membership in the not-for-profit, government, and corporate sectors.
BUMO 758D: Social Entrepreneurship
Faculty: James Sanders
Meets Term B in Washington, D.C.
This course is about using entrepreneurial skills to craft innovative responses to social problems. Entrepreneurs are particularly good at recognizing opportunities, exploring innovative approaches, mobilizing resources, managing risks, and building viable enterprises. These skills are just as valuable in the social sector as they are in business. Social entrepreneurship applies to both profit and non-profit firms who have programs designed to create social value. The key issues today are measuring social impact, impact investment, and the blurring lines between social, public and private sector.
BUMO 758A: Strategic Growth for Emerging Social and Commercial Ventures
Faculty: Jonathan Aberman
Meets Term C in Washington, D.C. & Term D in Shady Grove
This course explores the key elements of mastering the move from being a successful small entrepreneurial enterprise to achieving industry significance, whether as a for profit, not for profit or blended model. The challenge of converting innovation into a lasting and sustainable business model must be met by any venture, whether the customer is society, donors, stockholders or consumers. Supplemented by readings, video and guest speakers, the course highlights the application of practical lessons leading to strategic growth and subsequent emergence as a player, and allows students to see the many facets of strategy, organizational development and growth as they specifically relate to scaling an entrepreneurial enterprise.