Provost IMPACT Award supports more contextualized, inclusive education in social entrepreneurship

The Graduate Certificate in Creative Social Entrepreneurship offers a flexible and expansive curriculum in a 100% online and asynchronous learning environment. Creative social entrepreneurship is a transdisciplinary field connecting creative, social, and entrepreneurial practices to improve the economic, environmental, political, and social well-being of society.

Story originally appeared in UKNow on May 7, 2024, by Jenny Wells-Hosley.

The Institutional Multidisciplinary Paradigm to Accelerate Collaboration and Transformation (IMPACT) Awards were launched in 2023 to champion the necessary and groundbreaking work done by University of Kentucky faculty and other campus community members.

The inaugural IMPACT Awards total more than $600,000 — with a particular emphasis on proposals that are transdisciplinary, innovative and aligned with some aspect of The UK-PURPOSE, the UK Strategic Plan.

In 2024, IMPACT will continue to fund projects similarly aimed at supporting the university to continue leading in teaching, research, service and care.

This spring, UKNow is highlighting the 2023 IMPACT Award projects and the faculty who are leading them. Today, we learn more about the development of a pilot program titled “Curricular Partnership with HBCUs to Promote a Curriculum of Creative Social Entrepreneurship."

Led by faculty in the UK College of Fine Arts, including Rachel Shane, Ph.D., chair and professor in the UK Department of Arts Administration, and Jaleesa Wells, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department, the project involves developing a certificate series that addresses a global rising call for social entrepreneurship education that is more contextualized, inclusive and sustainable. The project also includes collaboration among UK and HBCUs in Kentucky to enhance curricular offerings for students across the many fields within the creative economy.  

UKNow caught up with the research team to learn more about the project. You can read more in the Q&A session below.

UKNow: How has the IMPACT award inspired innovation at UK with your research?
Social entrepreneurship is a rising phenomenon touching many different fields and industries. In the creative economy, arts administration research and teaching are heavily practice-focused and deeply contextualized. However, generalized entrepreneurship education doesn’t consider the unique circumstances of the broader creative ecosystem like creative social entrepreneurship does. The faculty in the new certificate programs in Creative Social Entrepreneurship are practitioners and researchers in specific contexts, including direct research investigating creative social entrepreneurship and intersecting research in the areas of intersectional arts leadership, rural and Appalachian creative economic development, arts entrepreneurship, social action, Black creative traditions, and social innovation. Developing a certificate series has been one of the most impactful ways we are bridging a connection between research and education and contributing to a rising call from entrepreneurship educators worldwide for a shift towards contextualized, culturally inclusive and sustainable entrepreneurship education.

Our innovative approach is also a catalyst to build collaborations between the University of Kentucky and our partners at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) — many of which do not have arts and creativity-grounded entrepreneurship programs, let alone courses — towards the establishment of a cross-institutional social enterprise culture within the wider creative economy and between the creative economy and other emerging economies, like the circular, social and knowledge economies.

UKNow: What positive impact will your research have on Kentucky and beyond?
A key focus for our IMPACT award is to work across institutions with HBCUs to develop a symbiotic relationship between our new certificate programs and their current course offerings for students across the many fields within the creative economy. Kentucky has two established HBCUs: Kentucky State University in Frankfort and Simmons College of Kentucky in Louisville. Our goal is to partner with these institutions and other HBCUs to implement and catalyze our curricular partnerships. Within and beyond Kentucky, there continues to be an interest in progressing society and economies toward more sustainable and responsible structures and systems. As such, there is a need for new ways of shaping current and new creative careers and a growing cultural workforce, especially as both the creative and knowledge economies continue to grow rapidly. Kentucky is in a strong position to be a positive leader in this growth, and Dr. Jaleesa Wells’ continued research in creative social entrepreneurship and innovation contributes to the burgeoning opportunities for new creative social venture development and an emerging creative social enterprise leadership culture throughout the Commonwealth. We hope that we will be a beacon and model for similar programs to arise across the country and the world.

UKNow: How did you decide on this particular topic or research area?
Creative social entrepreneurship is a new phenomenon that has risen in popularity in the last decade. It’s a very nascent field that is characterized by the contextualization of practitioners across the globe. It merges key aspects of creative entrepreneurship with those from social entrepreneurship and transcends into a distinct area of focus, practice and knowledge. While other countries have more established ecosystems of support for creative social entrepreneurs, the U.S. lags in its understanding of the possibilities and opportunities creative social enterprise will have on our economies. As such, our certificate programs, and the research that grounds them, consider the deep contexts surrounding creative social entrepreneurship emergence from communities and areas that have been historically underexplored in wider understandings of entrepreneurship in the U.S. We are building a curriculum that recognizes the valuable insights and experiences of creative social entrepreneurship in rural areas and from historically underrepresented communities to develop a more inclusive and comprehensive understanding of this emerging field. There are many parallels between Kentucky, and further regions in the U.S, like Appalachia and the Southern United States (where many HBCUs are established), and other areas across the globe, and there is a great opportunity for shifting and emerging entrepreneurship education approaches to support community-driven economic growth through the practice and philosophy of creative social entrepreneurship.

UKNow: What comes next for your research?
We launch our certificate programs — an undergraduate and a graduate certificate program — this fall 2024 with the application opening in July 2024. Also, this coming Fall 2024 semester, we are running an introductory course on Creative Social Entrepreneurship (AAD 502) to allow students to experience a shortened version of the certificate before applying for and pursuing the full certificate program. Faculty and staff interested in learning more about the possibilities of this course and certificate programs, can also reach out to Dr. Wells, certificates director, to further inquire. It is our goal for the certificate program to reach many students across UK’s campus and beyond.

Research and teaching are best when they happen side-by-side, so we are working on publications about the program, as well as continuing research in the domain of creative social entrepreneurship and innovation with colleagues, such as the academics teaching within the certificate programs, colleagues across UK’s colleges and our colleagues at HBCUs. Importantly, the IMPACT award has proven to be a catalyst for building a network of educators and researchers invested in the development of creative social entrepreneurship across Kentucky, the U.S. and the globe. As such, we aim to further incorporate the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, such as Quality Education, Economic Growth, Innovation, Reduced Inequalities, and Responsible Production and Consumption, with our new programs and continued research activities.

Created 05/07/2024
Last Updated 05/07/2024