New education toolkit to help businesses take on social mission

  • Date

    Thu 13 Jul 23

Image of a hand holding a book (the book is called the Living Labs Toolkit)

With more and more companies being driven by a strong social mission alongside their core business focus, a group of European universities have launched a new training toolkit to support education on this increasingly important issue.

The training toolkit will help universities, businesses and students create innovative teaching materials around the idea of ‘social economy’ – the combination of a social mission with economic viability.

As part of an Erasmus+ funded project, these new materials aim to bridge the gap between universities and social economy organisations and equip students with the right skills for a more sustainable future.

The toolkit provides information on how educational institutions can strengthen ties with social economy organisations and prepare students for the labour market. The aim is to empower students to work in the social economy sector.

The project lead for the University of Essex, Dr Georgios Kokkinidis from Essex Business School, said the resources will reshape the way higher education institutions teach and learn about the social economy.

“It is a big leap towards making social economy education more practical, interactive, and effective,” he said. “The development of more practical, engaging curricula are an essential part in our goals to transform education and making it future-proof.”

The University of Essex is the UK partner in the project called SE4Ces, which is an alliance of nine partners co-funded under Erasmus+. Essex is working alongside universities in Italy (University of Bologna), Spain (Autonomous University of Barcelona) and Greece (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) to create an environment for the social economy to thrive by promoting closer partnerships between higher education institutions active in social economy, organisations and enterprises, as well as community stakeholders.

The two resources which the team have developed – created with educators in mind – are the SE4Ces Living Labs Framework Report and the SE4Ces Training Toolkit.

The Living Labs Framework Report paints a roadmap for co-creating transformative social economy education. It lays out the methodology behind the SE4Ces co-design approach, demonstrating how universities and social economy organisations can join forces to develop effective and engaging teaching materials.

The Training Toolkit offers a step-by-step guide to implementing a Social Economy Living Lab, which is a space for collaboration, co-creation, and the testing of educational materials. It contains practical tools to make it easy for innovative, hands-on teaching methods to be brought into the classroom or organisation.

Professor of Management at Essex Business School, Peter Bloom, who is also involved in the project, said: “Working with these partners makes me feel like we are part of a global community – it is empowering and exciting. We need local communities of action and global communities of knowledge sharing.”