New Economic Thinking & Social Entrepreneurship

Sustainability transitions in Rotterdam

Are you interested in learning more about how economics and entrepreneurship can be a solution to current global challenges? Impact Centre Erasmus (ICE) Drift and the Economic Faculty Association Rotterdam (EFR) have developed a minor addressing just this issue.

The minor explores new futures of the economy by critically engaging with transformative entrepreneurs and academic debates around economic transitions. The minor not only focusses on academic theory, it challenges you to take a deep dive into the everyday practice of new business models and value propositions and asks you to develop your own business solution.

Join the most innovative minor on campus!

This transition-focused minor also features a collaboration with Blue City010, a hub for new entrepreneurship such as ‘Aloha’, ‘Rotterzwam’ and ‘Fruitleather’, funded by impact investor iFund.


Many of the world’s most pressing challenges spark transformative changes that will deeply affect the way we think, organise and behave. We are in urgent need of new economic thinking and practice to move towards sustainable, circular, prosperous and inclusive economies. Even though more and more companies acknowledge their responsibility to contribute to global issues like climate change, poverty and resource scarcity they often struggle to develop new business models and value propositions that help to guide and accelerate transitions to a sustainable economy and society.

Examples are new business models based on circular or sharing economy, social entrepreneurship or impact investment. These adopt different perspectives on and approaches to value creation and use new value propositions. By definition such new business models bring along new types of relations and partnerships, require behavioral and institutional changes, and imply structural changes in markets and power relations. Transition research can help to understand the complex nature of these processes and how societal and business transitions are and can be influenced to lead to more sustainable and resilient societies.

In this minor we focus on understanding why and how transformative business models emerge and how students can contribute by enlarging their impact or even by developing transformative business models themselves. The Minor will link up to Blue City010, a hub for new entrepreneurship such as ‘Aloha’, ‘Rotterzwam’ and ‘Fruitleather’, and funded by impact investor iFund.  


The minor is organized in five modules and will combine lectures by academics and practitioners, group and individual assignments. Next to that we will help you to improve your skills, like debating, presenting and pitching. The first four modules will each take two weeks and consists of three academics lectures, one practitioner lecture, a group debate. The students will also identify an individual challenge in the new economy to work on a business proposition throughout the minor which will lead to an essay. These results will be presented and finally pitched during a Dragon Den in the fifth module. This 15 ECTS (12 ECTS) minor expects you to spend some 420 hours (330 hours) for class preparations, class participation, individual and group assignments.

Learning objectives:

  • Understand contemporary theories on new business models and value propositions;
  • Develop knowledge and new perspectives on the (potential) role of business in society;
  • Develop an understanding of the complex nature of our socio-economic challenges and societal transitions;
  • Communicate and reflect on theories and empirical research on new business models;
  • Understand methods to measure and manage the value proposition of impact;
  • Think and act in an academic way on the interface of economics, management and social science;
  • Conduct an empirical study on the role of business in society by developing a business proposition.

Who can participate?

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.

Group assignments: In Week 1, groups of around five students will be formed based on common interests. Each week there will be a group work assignment back-to-back after the lectures where lecturers are partly available for questions and feedback. The students will work on a joint critical perspective on the economy within which their individual assignments are positioned. Different forms for group assignments will be used like role-playing, world café, interactive multi-level analysis, and multi-actor analysis.

Debate: Each second week there will be a debating session to close of the module. In this session the students groups are expected to take position on a specific economic challenge central to the different modules and engage in a facilitated debate.

Individual assignment: The participants will also identify an individual challenge in the new economy to work on a business proposition throughout the minor which will lead to an essay. These results will be presented and finally pitched during a Dragons Den in the fifth module.

Dragons Den: During the last week a Dragons Dens will be organized in which the students will pitch their individual ideas and suggestions to the entrepreneurs and representatives from business and policy. This half-day event is organized at Blue City010 with closing drinks.  

Overview modules: 
Module 1: Economic transitions, social transitions and governance challenges
Module 2: Alternative perspectives on new economy, politics and sustainability transitions
Module 3: New business models and managing economic transitions
Module 4: New value propositions, true cost accounting and social impact thinking
Module 5: Development of a business proposition*  

*Module 5 “Development of a Business Proposition” is not required for ESE students that opt for a 12 ECTS minor.  

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