Business Not as Usual

Innovation workshops inspire new forms of social entrepreneurship to encourage environmental sustainability.

Earlier this month, 200 Rollins students and faculty attended innovation workshops on recycling and sustainability at Florida Hospital’s Innovation Lab and discovered the power of small groups to create workable solutions.

For instance, one group detailed plans for a recycling competition between dorms. Another came up with an electronic card-swipe system for tallying points when using recycling bins.

Those were just two of the ideas to emerge from the Innovation Impact Immersion sessions, which were part of the launch for Rollins’ new majors in business management and social entrepreneurship. The three, 5-hour sessions followed time-tested guidelines to smoothly generate ideas while making it easier for participants to accept well-meaning critiques.

The goal is to move from ideation and creation to a workable solution and prototype in less than a day. One of the guiding principles is the use of human-centered design thinking—a concept that the world’s leading innovation consultants, like IDEO, Inc., are implementing for top global companies and others interested in solving social problems.

“[Human-centered design thinking] is a way for us to put the people most challenged by a social issue at the center of our problem-solving efforts,” says Cecilia McInnis-Bowers, professor of business and social entrepreneurship. “It starts with empathy—observing and listening, experiencing challenges from those most affected by them. This leads us to think of whom we serve before our bottom-line. It leads to innovative breakthrough solutions that get overlooked by typical approaches to problem-solving.”

Francesca Champin ’16 said the innovation workshop showed her how people from varying backgrounds can create interesting business prototypes that could eventually change behavior.

“It really helped me learn how to produce a program and how every idea could build upon another,” she says.

Her group came up with the idea of swiping a student ID when placing recyclables in specially designated bins. The electronic system would keep a tally of each person’s recycling activities, not as part of a contest, but as a way to positively reinforce a lifestyle change. Keeping that record would let participants realize the positive effect they can have on the environment.

Rollins’ social entrepreneurship major is the first social entrepreneurship major accredited by the AACSB, the premier evaluator of business degree programs. It is also recognized by Ashoka, a group that encourages and supports innovative solutions to complex social problems.

“Rollins College is a leading Changemaker Campus in Ashoka’s network, and they are uniquely positioned to set a new standard of excellence for curriculum and culture-change,” says Marina Kim, director of Ashoka U. “The new AACSB-accredited social entrepreneurship major is the latest opportunity for students interested in social impact and organizational sustainability.”

Undergraduate Business at Rollins

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