By Audrey St. Clair ’03 | Photos by Scott Cook
Rollins students interested in making a positive difference, in effecting real change in the world, have more opportunities and resources than ever before. The College’s recently renewed Ashoka U Changemaker Campus designation and its partnership with the new Central Florida Social Enterprise Accelerator speak directly to Rollins’ commitment to serving as a catalyst for social change.
All students, regardless of their major, can get involved in important hot-button issues through the Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Hub, where students and faculty gather to develop creative and sustainable solutions to everything from poverty and the environment to education and health care. The Hub is a way of life, creating opportunities for mobilization on campus, in the local community, and on the global stage.
The social entrepreneurship and business major—born from this growing mobilization—is drawing students who crave positive change in the world even more than their daily Snapchat fix. By blending the boundaries of the public, private, and nonprofit worlds, this major prepares students for the 21st-century job market, which demands leaders steeped in service and armed with critical thought.
In Strategies for Changemakers, students refine critical social entrepreneurial skills, discovering that taking risks, thinking strategically, working with others, and being resilient can improve lives and sustain our society.
Josephine Balzac, visiting assistant professor of business
In a world that, at a faster rate than ever, needs innovative solutions to big problems, this interdisciplinary, community engagement course educates students to become agents of change. Students study social movements, meet with local community leaders, research the history of contemporary issues, and analyze strategies and systems while learning best practices of social innovation and entrepreneurship.
Balzac inspires her students to dig deep into social and environmental issues they’re passionate about by using human-centered design thinking, which favors interaction at the community level over a top-down approach.
After answering questions about their favorite vegetable, students learned how this pedal-powered urban farming program transforms residential lawns into organic micro-farms and decreases greenhouse-gas omissions.
“We often fail to appreciate where our food comes from,” Balzac says, “and who’s out in the fields working hard for us to have food on our tables.”
On average a plate of food travels 1,500 miles before it gets to a consumer, Balzac says. In the process, it loses much of its nutrients through preservatives and freezing.
With 23 farmlettes in Orlando’s Audubon Park neighborhood, Fleet Farming is changing our options for consumption, selling greens and produce at local farmers markets and to area restaurants like The Sanctum.
“The students get to be a part of that, working together, delegating tasks among themselves,” Balzac says. “We were on the ground from the minute we arrived. Grabbing and tasting, pushing and pulling, interacting with nature in a real way.”
Mark Angelo ’18, a social entrepreneurship and business major, is a big fan of the literal dirty work that goes on at Fleet Farming.
“Not only is this course tailored to those seeking to make real change in the current business world, but it also nurtures students’ unconventional methods for finding solutions to complex world issues,” Angelo says.
“This opportunity is unique to Rollins,” Angelo says. “By having the opportunity to get involved with Fleet Farming, a true changemaker, I’m able to learn about new business models in a real-world sense. Hands-on learning is the best feature of this course.”