ThinkND series to explore the power of social entrepreneurship

Author: Heather Asiala

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Social entrepreneurship and innovation experts from the Pulte Institute for Global Development and the McKenna Center for Human Development and Global Business - both part of the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs - will embark on a virtual teaching series examining social entrepreneurship and its relationship with poverty and the private sector. The three-part series, hosted by ThinkND, will be held on Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. EDT beginning on February 10 and ending on February 24.  

Michael Morris and Melissa Paulsen, both professors of the practice within the Keough School, will combine their expertise to lead the series alongside special guests who will provide tangible examples of how social entrepreneurship can change the world. The sessions will consider questions, such as:

  • What is social entrepreneurship (SE), why has interest in it exploded, and what are some of the challenges in pursuing SE initiatives?
  • Can entrepreneurship help to alleviate poverty, increasing wealth and resilience in communities worldwide? 
  • How can the private sector contribute to poverty alleviation and community impact? 
  • Corporate Social Responsibility versus Responsible and Inclusive Business Models: What is the difference?
  • What is Notre Dame doing to foster social entrepreneurship from within?

Morris has dedicated his career to bringing entrepreneurship empowerment to those operating under conditions of adversity; a commitment that is reflected in his research, teaching, and community engagement efforts through the McKenna Center. 

“Our goal with this series is to explain the diverse domains of social entrepreneurship and its transformative potential,” said Morris. “The kind of entrepreneurial thinking that has produced so many commercial breakthroughs can also help communities address poverty, environmental degradation, hunger, educational reform and other pressing social problems.” 

Paulsen will bring another perspective to the discussions through her expertise with the private sector. As Director of the Pulte Institute’s Entrepreneurship & Education Division, Paulsen works to understand and build corporate relationships within the development sector. 

“It is imperative that business leaders care about poverty and community impact. They should be challenged to move beyond simply philanthropy to more inclusive business models,” said Paulsen, who will be joined by corporate business leaders in the third session of the series. “I hope this series opens an honest dialogue about the important role business can play in poverty alleviation.”

"Throughout the challenges of the past year, we have seen businesses small and large begin to emphasize or renew a focus on being good corporate citizens," said Dolly Duffy '84, executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association. "We are excited to partner on this series to bring a deeper understanding of social entrepreneurship, its challenges and successes, and what may lie ahead.”

The Power of Social Entrepreneurship series will include a combination of short faculty presentations, guest panel insight, and lively group discussion via weekly interactive Zoom sessions.  This is the first debut of the larger “Conversations on Poverty and Inequality” program from the Pulte Institute, which aims to host relevant themed series in the future. 

The program is free and open to all and it is hosted exclusively on ThinkND, Notre Dame’s open, online learning community. Click here for more information and to register.