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Sustainability students illustrate social entrepreneurship
Author: Daniel Bugan
Published: 02/11/2022

​Students of the Diploma in Sustainable Development recently successfully coordinated two events aimed at developing their entrepreneurial skills and creative competencies.

On 20 October, first-year students presented their business ideas at the apt-named Idea Fest. The following day, third-year Diploma students held panel discussions on their ideas for change at the Future Now Summit. The summit was organised and hosted by the second-year cohort.

Dr Ruenda Loots, lecturer and programme leader of the Diploma in Sustainable Development, said: “Each academic year of the Diploma has a module that focuses on social entrepreneurship. We use social entrepreneurship as a practice and process to develop our students' passion and purpose towards change. This is the second year that our students have organised the festival and summit."

Idea Fest
The Idea Fest initiative, which was facilitated by module convenor Natasha King, provided first-year students with the opportunity to showcase entrepreneurial ideas and/or product prototypes that they developed during the second semester. Second- and third-year students, facilitators and guests critiqued their pitches and provided feedback. The purpose of this assignment is to assist first-years to become more experienced in ideation and to allow them to improve their ideas through reflection.

First-year student Dominique Daruty de Grandpre said the event was fun and interactive and provided first years with a safe space to learn.

“The feedback we received from faculty and peers was valuable not only for the success of our ideas but also for us as entrepreneurs. I received feedback in the form of contacts, suggestions for improvement and even pointers on presentation style and confidence. These are all valuable things to work on as I further my idea and develop it throughout my studies."

Future Now Summit
The Future Now Summit was organised and hosted by second-year Diploma students. This helped them develop their ability to take initiative and exhibit action-orientated behaviours in completing group tasks with deadlines and real-world pressures.

The 2022 summit featured panel discussions with third-year students. Topics included “Understanding the Modern Mind" and “Entrepreneurship as a Sustainable Practice". The overarching question the panellists had to answer was: How do you get people to join your cause? The third-year students were guided by module convenor Amy Bosworth to develop their presentations and sharpen the focus of their ideas. Second-year students acted as moderators for the panel discussions.

The second-years were then required to write an evidence-based report on their role in the organisational process of the summit with regards to leadership, initiative and team dynamics.

Mandisa Mbaligontsi, the module convenor for the second-year cohort, said the highlight was seeing the students' confidence grow.

“They executed the event well and had to work together as a team to solve problems as they arise. For instance, the morning of the summit it turned out that their plan for stage setting was not going to work out. They quickly pivoted, racing around the Sustainability Institute and negotiated with staff to borrow beautiful elements from offices to create the atmosphere they wanted on stage."

  • The three-year Diploma in Sustainable Development endeavours to ground students in principles of sustainability and entrepreneurship for future social impact and ecological restoration. It provides theoretical knowledge and practical experience in areas such as sustainable technologies, complexity and ecology, social entrepreneurship, leadership development, social activation, small business management skills, creativity and storytelling.​

  • Photo:  At the Future Now Summit, third-year students in Sustainable Development (on the photo) held panel discussions on their ideas for change.