Starting in Summer 2022, The Sullivan Foundation will launch a new extracurricular coursework program for college students that will better prepare them to drive real and lasting social change as the civic and entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow.
Through the coursework, participating students will develop and hone their leadership and social entrepreneurial skills in Sullivan Foundation-sponsored Study Abroad and Study USA programs while earning academic credits, real-world internship experience and certification.
“Students at our partner schools want to make a positive impact on their communities and the world around them, but it’s hard to find courses that will guide them on that path,” said Steve McDavid, president of the Sullivan Foundation. “When these courses are available at their schools, they’re often spread out among different academic disciplines. So a student might have to take a leadership course in public policy, a community assessment and engagement course in sociology, an entrepreneurship course in business, a media and communications course in marketing, etc. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of cohesion in this approach, and the students don’t have a specific path of coursework to follow as future leaders focused on positive changemaking.”
To find innovative solutions to this challenge, the Sullivan Foundation put together an advisory board comprised of faculty members from 18 of its 70 partner colleges and universities. These board members researched and developed detailed programs and coursework to provide a clear path for students who want to become leaders and changemakers with the skills they need to make a real difference.
The program, set to launch in 2022 and expand in 2023, will consist of extracurricular short courses, workshops and boot camps. “To get started, each student will identify the issue or issues they’re passionate about and want to address,” McDavid explained. “Then, they’ll learn effective leadership, team-building, problem-assessment and collaboration skills to work on these issues in their own way, whether that’s through a social enterprise, community outreach or developing public-policy solutions.”
“Finally—and this is important—our students will learn how to communicate their successes through a variety of outlets, like social media, traditional advertising, press releases and online marketing and content development,” McDavid added.
This new approach kicks off with courses offered in the Sullivan Foundation’s upcoming Study Abroad France program, taking place June 24-July 23, 2022, in Strasbourg. During the first two weeks of the Strasbourg program, all participating students will take a course titled “Leading for Impact & Innovation.” For the second half of the program, students can choose between two courses: “Leadership by Design” and “Intercultural Communications.” The program is a partnership between the Sullivan Foundation and the European Study Center in Strasbourg.
The Sullivan Foundation is also working on a plan to provide its next cohort of Study Abroad France students with internship opportunities in late 2022, where they’ll get real-world experience in impact entrepreneurship, leadership and changemaking.
Starting in 2023, the coursework will expand, with a total of five courses offered in that year’s Study Abroad program. Additionally, the Sullivan Foundation plans to launch a new Study USA program in which students who can’t travel to France can still take the changemaking courses in designated American towns and cities. The 2023 Study USA program will offer two courses and then expand to five courses in 2024 or 2025 at the latest.
Once the program is fully running, students will be able to take all five courses, either in the Study Abroad or the Study USA program, depending on their preference.
The five courses are:
Social Entrepreneurship 101
This course will introduce students to the emerging field of social entrepreneurship and innovation and help them learn to innovate and implement impactful, sustainable and scalable methods of solving society’s problems.
Leadership by Design
This course will provide a basic introduction to leadership, focusing on the practice of leadership and what it means to be a good leader.
Community Assessment and Problem Assessment
Students will learn how to systematically assess and define the needs of a target organization and/or population as well as any potential gaps between desired needs and current resources.
Social Impact Communications
This course will introduce students to the field of integrated marketing communications and its role in promoting a product, service or business enterprise.
Entrepreneurial Skills Deep Dive
Students will examine prominent models of social enterprises, acquiring insight and understanding of the factors that lend to—or limit—the effectiveness of social entrepreneurs.
The new Sullivan coursework will culminate in internships for participating students as well as a capstone project at their college or university.
The internship experience will give students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in their introductory courses. Students will spend 40 hours interning at a social venture in their community. They will also take part in an online community of other Sullivan students working in their own internships, where they’ll reflect on the lessons they’ve learned and the dilemmas they’ve faced.
Finally, a capstone course will introduce students to action research, a form of systematic inquiry by practitioners looking to execute solutions for complex problems. Through action research, they’ll gain a better understanding of the issues and learn how to improve the situation that concerns them most. The primary objective of the course is to prepare students to do action research in communities in the real world. To wrap it all up, the students will develop a capstone proposal outlining the main problems and desired solutions.
“We’re excited to begin rolling out this new program next year,” McDavid said. “The Sullivan Foundation has always recognized, encouraged and rewarded social innovation among college students and our partner schools. Now, we’re taking a major step forward on our end through this innovative coursework. We look forward to leading these changemakers on their path and providing them with educational and real-world opportunities that weren’t available before.”