History of the Social Enterprise Symposium

Over the last 9 years, the Social Enterprise Symposium has become the University of Maryland's premiere event on social enterprise. The Social Enterprise Symposium is dedicated to exploring the connection between economic prosperity and lasting social and environmental change. What started in 2009 as a student-run program has grown into a professionally managed, corporate sponsored event that explores cutting edge practices across industry and serve as a platform for social enterprise thought leadership throughout the region and the nation.

The Social Enterprise Symposium has hosted more than 230 thought leaders in corporate responsibility, social innovation, and sustainability from companies including PwC, Unilever, TOMS, GE, IBM, Honest Tea, VF Corporation, CLIF Bar, Accenture, and more. Throughout its history, Symposium has offered a variety of engagement opportunities for students, faculty, staff and professionals including speaker panels, workshops, networking receptions, boardroom discussions, and student innovation competitions and showcases.

Join us for the 1oth Annual Social Enterprise Symposium on March 9th, 2018!

Past Event Highlights

2017- Markets Make Change

The 2017 Social Enterprise Symposium’s theme was Markets Make Change. Throughout the day multiple thought leaders and students explored the role of market systems in addressing societal challenges. Keynoting the event was Shannon Schuyler, Chief Corporate Responsibility and Purpose Officer with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. She inspired attendees to think beyond traditional sector boundaries to collaborate, experiment with new business models, and activate market systems to address the world's growing list of complex concerns. The day consisted of a pre-networking reception with over 10 employers ready to hire, 4 breakout sessions, a workshop on sustainable product innovation, and a series of exciting, back-to-back solo presentations in the Afternoon “Buzz.”  The 2017 Symposium also recognized Smith School of Business Alumnus Robert Kashan ’76, founder and CEO of EarthColor LLC, with the first inaugural  “Leadership for Better Business Award”

2016 - Invest in the Long Term

The theme of the 2016 Social Enterprise Symposium was “Invest in the Long Term” and featured two keynote speakers: Alex Counts, founder of the Grameen Foundation, and Jonathan Atwood, vice president of sustainable living and corporate communications for Unilever North America, along with three breakout sessions, a student innovation showcase, and a networking reception. Discussion throughout the day centered on how individuals and organizations can seek prosperity that includes both profit and positive long-term impact.

2015All In: A Community of Changemakers

The 2015 Symposium kicked off with keynote speaker Shira Shafir, Director of Social Impact at TOMS Shoes. Allies from schools and departments across campus lead exciting breakout sessions and workshops, and we welcomed college students from across the nation as part of 2015 AshokaU Exchange, a three-day event hosted by the University of Maryland. The Symposium included innovative student ventures as part of the Do Good Challenge, and offered participants a chance to ‘invest’ Do Good dollars to causes, and an Afternoon Buzz, a series of exciting, back-to-back solo presentations by thought leaders. ‘All In’ signifies a movement of forward-thinking individuals as a community of changemakers to enable positive social change.

2014 - Don’t Hold Back

What could be accomplished if anything was possible, and we used our unique talents to forge fearlessly forward – without ever holding back? This was the idea behind each of the sessions at the 6th Annual Social Enterprise Symposium, host by the Center for Social Value Creation at University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of business. The 2014 Symposium featured keynotes from Lisa Neuberger-Fernandez, director of Corporate Citizenship Programs at Accenture and Jenna Fournel, director of teaching and learning from the Center of Inspired Teaching. For the first time, the Symposium also introduced a showcase of student social entrepreneurs competing in the University of Maryland Do Good Challenge.

2013 - Here and Now

More than 1,000 attendees filled 14 presentations and panels geared toward creating a better world though business principles at the Social Enterprise Symposium (SES). SES, hosted by the Center for Social Value Creation at University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of business, featured keynotes from Elysa Hammond, the director of Environmental Stewardship for Clif Bar and and Lisa Hall, CEO of Calvert Foundation. SES also hosted its first No Limits Pitch Competition for student entrepreneurs who dare to be different and change the world.

2012 - From Vision to Value: Creating a Better World through Business

The Social Enterprise Symposium (SES) has become one of the biggest and most anticipated events of the year for members of the University of Maryland community. The 2012 super-sized event drew approximately 1,200 people all coming together with the goal of creating a better world through business. Hosted by the Center for Social Value Creation at University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of business, SES featured two keynote speakers – Stan Litow, vice president of citizenship and corporate affairs and president of IBM’s International Foundation, and Letitia Webster, director of global corporate sustainability of VF Corporation. The Symposium also hosted 50 speakers and panelists at concurrent sessions throughout the day. SES showcased a student business plan competition in collaboration with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, several interactive workshops, and an evening networking reception.

2011 - Be Bold. Be Now. Be the Future

The world-premiere of a rap video is not your typical event for the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. But then again, everything about the third annual Social Enterprise Symposium, hosted by the Smith School’s Center for Social Value Creation, encouraged students to think beyond business as usual to innovative ways to incorporate social good into good business. The rap video was presented by keynote speaker Seth Goldman, “Tea”EO of Honest Tea. In addition to the keynote, SES hosted a several panel and workshops sessions, a documentary and an evening networking reception.

2010 - Transforming Business for the Global Good

Center for Social Value Creation hosted the 2nd annual Social Enterprise Symposium, a student-run program designed to introduce new approaches for making impactful, lasting social change around the world using market-based approaches. The event brought together private, public and nonprofit practitioners who are crossing traditional barriers to enable social and environmental change.

2009 - A New Way of Doing Business

The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and the Initiative for Social Value Creation hosted its first Social Enterprise Symposium, a student-run program designed to introduce new approaches for making impactful, lasting social change around the world using market-based approaches.  Attendees selected from multiple plenary sessions that ranged in topic from clean/green technology to socially responsible investing. Sessions were workshop-based so students could learn how to put principles and practices into action. A reception and career/opportunity fair followed the workshops.