University of Central Lancashire
Model:Find, Fund and Support
Social enterprise enjoys strategic support at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), an Institution where there is a strong emphasis on delivering real-world, practical benefits to students, staff and local communities. The UnLtd/HEFCE programme ('UCLan Together Awards') has added to the University's existing work in this area, providing four staff and ten student Award Winners, so far, with the funding needed to develop their social enterprise ideas. The Programme has been led by a superb cross-faculty Delivery Team, bringing together colleagues from Lancashire Business School, the innovative Media Factory, and Futures, UCLan's Student Employability Service. All of these colleagues are involved in curriculum development in their respective faculties, helping to cultivate the unique dynamism between programme and curriculum that constitutes a valuable part of the social enterprise ec
Social enterprise is formally embedded in the curriculum at UCLan through various elective modules. Equally important, social enterprise activity is also benefiting students by opening up new opportunities to obtain practical work experience relevant to (and often required by) their courses. Students from the School of Social Work, the School of Sport, Tourism and the Outdoors, and the School of Education and Social Sciences (especially those studying Health and Social Care) have found the programme particularly useful, obtaining relevant vocational experience through their participation in Award Winner ventures. These opportunities continue to be made available to a number of students even once they have graduated. The incubation unit of UCLan's state-of-the-art Media Factory, for example, supports over twenty graduate-led creative social enterprises. The programme has also benefited greatly from the involvement of academic staff Award Winners, leaders who are well placed to articulate the relevance of social enterprise to their students. Modifying a curriculum is of course a challenging and lengthy process, but by allowing the process of curriculum engagement to develop organically, the Programme's Delivery Team has already seen results in this area.
Outcomes and Impact
The value of successful curriculum engagement can be seen in the work of Bob Walley, Lecturer in Community Leadership and one of the programme's staff Award Winners. Mr Walley has used his Award to coordinate events for three local environmental projects - Friends of StoneyHolme Park, Canals and River Trust, and OffShoots Permaculture. These events have not only contributed value to the communities local to UCLan, but have also provided Mr Walley's students (especially those taking lectures in 'Promoting Sustainable Environments') with opportunities to acquire practical experience relevant to their educational courses. Several of Mr Walley's Community Leadership students have themselves become Award Winners, combining their education, personal experience and broader skill-sets to deliver their own socially entrepreneurial solutions. MA student Gillian Lynes, for example, used her Try It Award this year to set up Project Green, an initiative dedicated to helping young children develop positive attitudes to healthy living. These examples are illustrative of the organic process underway at UCLan, which is opening up the connections between students' formal learning and their social enterprise interests. Such connections have the potential to benefit a wide range of staff and students across the University.
Embedding social enterprise as part of the curriculum, at UCLan and elsewhere, will be an ongoing process. The Delivery Team at UCLan is looking to facilitate this process by developing new learning and teaching tools as part of an adaptable package of support. This will build on the 'Social Impact Challenge' toolkit the team piloted this year. The toolkit enabled people new to social entrepreneurship to gain practical skills through experiential learning and hands-on social problem-solving. A version of the Social Impact Challenge toolkit will be on show at the HE Support Final Conference, as part of an interactive workshop hosted by the UCLan Delivery Team. Attendees will be encouraged to join in and contribute their feedback in what will be a highly rewarding session. Over the next year, the Team will be working hard to make this interactive toolkit relevant and available to all academic staff members at UCLan for use in their own curriculum sessions. Initiatives such as this will no doubt find a welcome audience among the many staff and students at UCLan dedicated to effecting positive social change.