Minor: New Economic Thinking & Social Entrepreneurship

Are you curious about how economics and entrepreneurship can be a solution to current global challenges?  DRIFT, Impact Centre Erasmus (ICE) and the Economic Faculty Association Rotterdam (EFR), jointly offer the minor New Economic Thinking & Social Entrepreneurship. The minor allows Erasmus students to explore new economic futures by critically engaging with innovative entrepreneurs and following academic debates around economic transitions.

Why this minor?

The current economic system is under pressure because of unsustainable exploitation of resources and increasing pollution of our planet. Climate change and severe biodiversity losses are accelerating at an unprecedented scale while societies are facing rising inequalities in wealth and access to opportunities. These problems are not separate crises but they all are rooted in the same fundamental flaws in the current economic systems, leading to increasing pressure to transition to a new economy.

Traditional economic models and theories appear to be limited in explaining, predicting or even solving the problems linked to the current global economic system. Even though more and more companies are willing to contribute to solving these global issues (e.g. climate change, poverty and resource scarcity), the constraints of traditional economic thinking and practices create barriers for them to develop new business models, collaborations beyond the private sector and value propositions that help to guide and accelerate transitions to a sustainable economy and society.

In order to solve these problems, new economic thinking and practices are needed to understand the emerging socio-economic transitions and create new, sustainable ways to govern societal development based on alternative economic perspectives (circular, solidarity, nature positive). To explore these new economic thinking and practices this minor dives into concepts such as sustainable business models, social entrepreneurship and social/environmental impact measurements.

‘We believe new economic models are crucial to our future’.

Read the interview with Emma Clemens (22) and Dunvel Délias (20), initiators of the minor.

Consequently, in this minor we will focus on understanding why and how socio-economic transitions evolve, which alternative economic models may have to offer, how transformative business models are characterized and how they connect with other societal actors. Students will collaborate with social entrepreneurs and they will be able to put into practice their lessons learnt on alternative economic models and new business models. Through the collaboration with the social enterprises, students will be able to support them to address specific challenges and develop an actionable strategy.

Connecting students to sustainability start-ups and social entrepreneurs

During this minor, students will work in groups on a challenge that has been brought in by social and/or impact-driven enterprises. The groups of students will help the organization address the sustainability, impact or business-proposition challenges it is facing. The course ends with a pitch event together with all enterprises, during which the groups of students will present their ideas and suggestions to the entrepreneurs, their classmates and the teachers of the minor. From a critical transition perspective, students in different groups will look for a solution to the challenges posed, and apply their (new) knowledge to the social enterprise.

Click here for more info on how organisations can get involved.

Learning objectives

  • Understand the complex nature of social, economic and environmental challenges of our society and explore the role of societal transitions;
  • Understand theoretical concepts, frameworks and methods on sustainability transitions, new economic thinking and business models;
  • Explain the (potential) role of business as a transformative force using theories of new economic models, value propositions and societal transitions;
  • Interpret and assess debates around new economic thinking and societal transitions using insights and tools from the fields of sustainability transition, social entrepreneurship and impact thinking;
  • Identify the ways businesses can take on sustainability challenges based on theories about new business models, value propositions and societal transitions;
  • Construct an actionable strategy for an existing social enterprise about how they can position themselves (better) in a transition in their sector. 

Unique Characteristics

If you want to participate in this minor, we expect you to be open minded, curious and – at times – provocative and interested in solving the grand challenges society is facing. You will engage in critical debates and be able to reflect critically upon offered theories. Multidisciplinary perspectives, applied research and problem oriented learning approaches have your interest. As this minor is delivered in English, you need to have a sufficient command of the English language in speech and writing to actively participate in class. We strongly encourage students from diverse disciplines to apply.

The minor is organized in three modules which combine lectures by academics and practitioners with group and individual assignments. Next to that we will help you to improve your skills, like debating, presenting and pitching.

The content of the minor has been developed by Impact Centre Erasmus and DRIFT in collaboration with the economic students association EFR.

For more information and a detailed description of each module please visit this webpage.