6 September 2012
AN INNOVATIVE NEW study abroad program in Beijing, China will help first-generation college students at The University of Texas at Austin combine their passion for entrepreneurship with their desire to help others. Participants in the new 2013 Maymester program, Social Entrepreneurship in the U.S. and China, will be among the first in the nation to gain hands-on, international experience in the emerging field of social entrepreneurship. A generous grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation will provide significant scholarship assistance for eligible first-generation college students participating in this new study abroad program.
Social entrepreneurs are visionaries who use transformative ideas and innovative models to solve the world’s pressing problems, driving social change through grass-roots efforts. In that spirit, students will spend four weeks in Beijing, China, helping local migrant families create new self-sustaining business ventures. Through a combination of classroom and community-based learning, students will explore the concept of social entrepreneurship and reflect on Chinese history and culture. They will also compare and contrast the history of social entrepreneurship in the U.S. and China -- and learn about the trends in globalization and industrialization that led millions of former rural farming families to migrate to Beijing in search of work.
Students will partner with local individuals and organizations to help families create self-sustaining, revenue-generating businesses that will help lift them out of poverty and further diversify the local economy. Students will also spend time working with local children at the Dandelion School, a Beijing middle school serving the children of migrant families. “The Social Entrepreneurship in the U.S. and China program was designed with the unique needs of UT’s own first-generation students in mind,” said Heather Barclay Hamir, Director of Study Abroad for the UT International Office. “These students have historically been more likely to enroll in Maymester programs due to the level of faculty involvement, the direct applicability of course credit to their degree plans, and the educational value of what is often their first international experience.”
Program co-facilitator, Dr. Ge Chen, Assistant Vice President, UT Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, explains, “We know UT students are very interested in civic engagement, leadership, and giving back to society. There is no better way to do this than through social entrepreneurship, which empowers young scholars to apply their talents to create self-sustaining solutions for local communities.” Dr. Chen and Dr. Leonard Moore, UT Professor of History, will co-facilitate the program.
Dr. Moore explains why now is the perfect time for students to explore the potential for innovation through social entrepreneurship, “Traditional institutions alone cannot solve some of the complex challenges facing the world today. We’re convinced that if you turn a diverse group of students loose and let them be creative and innovative, they’ll come up with some incredible solutions.”
Students interested in learning more about the Social Entrepreneurship in the U.S. and China program and potential scholarship funding, can visit the Study Abroad Fair on Wednesday, September 12 at Gregory Plaza from 10am – 3pm.
Written by Angie Pastorek
Photograph by Darcy McGillicuddy