A new business course offered at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is the brainchild of Jerry Calton, a professor of management and chair of the business department. Currently taught as Business Planning for New Ventures (MGT 425), Calton will be submitting the new course proposal this year to establish a new focus and rename the course Social Entrepreneurship.
The original class included the conventional small venture planning steps, but the new course—which has been taught for awhile now adds goals and measures for social and environmental performance that Calton describes as “an innovative approach…in the context of founding a profit-seeking business venture.”
The goal is to challenge business students to engage creatively and collaboratively with the local business community to help form new businesses and help improve existing ones that will have positive social impacts. In essence, Calton wants students to change the world for the positive, one venture at a time.
“Business managers who have been traditionally trained, tend to focus too narrowly upon the single bottom line…they tend to be insensitive to ethical concerns or the concerns of other stakeholders,” he says.
Calton focuses his research and teaching activities on exploring ways to integrate improved social and environmental performance into the operations and decision-making processes of business firms (see profile story). His idea in designing the new management course is to build awareness and foster manager interaction with a variety of stakeholders and their interests.
This semester, the class is taught by Christine Osterwalder, a lecturer at UH Hilo who has more than 30 years of marketing experience and has been teaching at UH Hilo for seven years.
A major aspect of the management course is networking, with one of its main points hinging on the active recruitment of mentors and supportive community members by student teams. After these teams have made contacts and built various working relationships, they can then have a sounding board to test assumptions, identify resources and plan viable business ventures.
At semester’s end, students are given the opportunity to present their community projects before a panel of faculty from the College of Business and Economics and members of the local business community. Some past social entrepreneurship plans have included a proposal to house the homeless, an idea for a “slow food” hub that would help improve nutrition and increase sales for local farmers and the promotion of Hawaiian music classes in public schools.
For more on the course, read full UH Hilo Stories article.
—A UH Hilo Stories article by Lara Hughes, a junior at UH Hilo majoring in business administration and a public information intern in the UH Hilo Office of the Chancellor