Social Entrepreneurship Retreat draws students and faculty

Posted on September 17, 2014

Bubble soccer

Bubble soccer and a banner: “What’s your problem? And what are you going to do about it?”

Erskine’s Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation (SEI) Program hosted retreat sessions for students as well as members of the faculty and staff on the Erskine campus Saturday.

Students met in Memorial Hall while faculty and staff members gathered in the Patrick Room of Bowie Divinity Hall for a time of learning, discussion, and planning.

Speakers included Steve McDavid, president of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation, and Gary Gilmer, president of The Renaissance, a local retirement community. Daniel Prohaska ’14, now a member of the Erskine staff, said Gilmer “showed us how social entrepreneurship can work right here in Due West.”

The Sullivan Foundation provided some last-minute promotion for the retreat last week when they made a stop in Due West and set up “bubble soccer” on the Erskine Mall.

Assistant Professor of Art Sharon Linnehan, one of about 22 faculty and staff members who attended  the SEI retreat, said the participants represented a broad range of departments and disciplines.

Social Entre. Retreat double crop

Brooklyn Garrett at the student retreat

Freshman Brooklyn Garrett of Westminster, S.C., a Presidential Scholar, enjoyed the presentation as well as the discussion at the student retreat.

“I enjoyed how we all shared each other’s stories of why we are here,” she said. “I related to others a lot by learning about the struggles others had gone through. Despite these life obstacles, we all had innovative ideas and goals.”

During the sessions, Garrett said she “learned about how to take my ideas and break them apart into small, feasible goals.”

Erskine recently added a minor in the area of Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation, described by Professor of Psychology Dr. Robert Elsner  as “a way of sustainably addressing social needs through novel means.”

The minor at Erskine is for undergraduates, but some courses in the program have been approved by the faculty of the seminary for elective credit.

download-5“Students asked for help in finding ways of serving God, the church, and humanity while making a good living, and this is one of the best ways we have found,” Elsner said.

Though the program is housed in the Department of Psychology, it is open to all Erskine students.

Garrett, who is pursuing a double major, said, “I have a lot on my plate this first semester, so I don’t really know if I will make this a minor yet, but we will see what the future brings!”

A one-week intensive course in Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation is planned for the coming Winter Term, and is to be offered Jan. 18-24, 2015, under the leadership of Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Brad Parker.

“The Sullivan Foundation is helping us promote this one-week course, and they are providing us with some world-class social entrepreneurs as speakers,” Elsner said.