How to Learn from a ... Issue No.21 May 5, 2014

Issue No.19
January 22, 2014
Issue No.21 May 5, 2014
How to Learn from a World-class Teacher on Social Entrepreneurship –
Scott Sherman
Editor’s Note: Scott Sherman will be in Hong Kong to address the Social Enterprise Summit
in November 3, 2014. Between now and November, I would like to work with local faculty
members to prepare for meeting this world-renown expert on inspiring and educating young
people. He is by far the most respected and influential teacher of this subject in institutes of
higher education around the world.
Who is Scott Sherman?
Dr. Scott Sherman is the Executive Director of an award-winning social enterprise, the
Transformative Action Institute (TAI). The mission of TAI is to train the next generation
of social entrepreneurs, innovators, and change makers for the 21st century.
Sherman is an expert on the most effective ways that people succeed in their attempts
to change the world – whether working for public health, the environment, or economic prosperity.
from He is currently writing another book
summarizing his research and experience in creating social change, How We Win: The Science of Making the World
a Better Place.
Over the last decade, Sherman has taught courses on social entrepreneurship and social innovation at numerous
universities, including Yale, Princeton, and Johns Hopkins.
In 2005, Sherman became an Echoing Green Fellow, which recognized him as one of the world’s “best emerging
social entrepreneurs.” Sherman has also won awards from Ashoka U for excellence and innovation in teaching social
His curricula and workshops have been used at more than 50 campuses across the United States from Harvard and
Stanford to Berkeley and UCLA. His programs have also been used in dozens of nations around the world from
Europe to Latin America, and from Africa to Asia.
Sherman earned his undergraduate and law degrees from U.C. Berkeley, as well as his Ph.D. in environmental studies
from the University of Michigan.
What makes his teaching so powerful?
In an Ashok U publication of Teaching Resource Guide on Social Entrepreneurship (2012), Sherman’s course was
identified as one of the most effective and widely used courses across America. The title of the course is Social
Entrepreneurship and the Story of Your Life: A Portfolio of Your Past, Present and Future.
The most distinctive aspect of the course is how it enables the students to see their personal connection to social
entrepreneurship. The latter is not presented to the students as something existing ‘out there’. Instead, the students are
encouraged to reflect on their own current circumstances and aspirations. As the reviewers summarized: “A promising
approach in SE course design is to help students achieve a clear understanding of themselves, their dreams,
motivations, talents, strengths and aspirations, and to help them connect their passion to social entrepreneurship and
changemaking. This approach encourages students to reflect on a series of questions, and engage in a number of
projects, class sessions and conversations that build the key skills and mindset of social entrepreneurs, which include
creativity, systems-thinking, risk-taking, resiliency, and the ability to communicate visionary ideas.”
The Power of ‘Story of Your Life’
As part of the course requirements, each student is to create a personal portfolio, i.e. a document using words, photos,
images, etc. to tell the story of one’s past, present and future:
 Your Past - the path that led you here
 Exploring your present
 Your vision of the future
The students are provided with a series of questions to guide them through the exercise and they cover such areas as:
 Your ancestry – your family background and history
 Your creative inspirations
 Your finest moments and peak performances of life
 The things that make you happiest – your passions, joys, and moments of flow
 Your strengths and talents
 100 goals that you would want to achieve in your life
 Your dreams for the future
 What you would do if you won US$100 million tax free in the lottery
“The most important instruction is to tell stories. Don’t simply write down your answers in a mere word, a sentence,
or even a short paragraph. Recount the tales of your life. As the American poet Muriel Rukeyser once said, ‘the
universe is made of stories’”.
The portfolio exercise is an integral part of Sherman’s course on social entrepreneurship. It enables the students to see
the connection between their own passion and the societal problems that social entrepreneurs are trying to tackle. With
this grounding, ideas like social entrepreneurship, social innovation, social change would have more concrete and
direct meaning for the students.
Challenges for local faculty members
We are fortunate that Scott Sherman has consented to come to Hong Kong during the week of the Social Enterprise
Summit. He will be staying here for five days. Apart from addressing the Summit, he will have time to give talks to
faculty members and students of local universities. Education for Good will be responsible for planning his speaking
Some preliminary ideas are as follows:
 Half-day speaking engagements to individual universities
 Conduct a full-day workshop for a group of outstanding university students
 Take part in an Inter-University Forum of faculty members to share his approach and experience in teaching
social entrepreneurship at university level
 Conduct a half-day in-depth workshop for a small group of faculty members
 Take part in a dialogue with a number of leading social entrepreneurs
 Speaking engagements to other audiences, such as NGOs, business community and civil service
We are still at the planning stage for these activities. If any faculty members are interested in offering us suggestions
or getting involved in the planning, please write to KK at [email protected]