Students4change: promoting social innovation in higher education for human development

Belda-Miquel, Sergio; Boni, Alejandra (2018). 'Students4Change: promoting social innovation in higher education for human development' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.


Students4Change is a project financed by the European Commission through the Erasmus + Programme. Its central aim is to improve the development of key capacities on social innovation and social entrepreneurship, focusing on students in education programmes in higher education institutions in Latin America. The final objective is to promote the capacities of future professionals to better engage in their local communities, to better tackle with different specific problems and challenges regarding human development that they face.

The project runs from 2016 to 2019, and it is implemented by a consortium of 10 Latin American and 5 European universities. After a review of the State of the art, the project has developed a theoretical and methodological framework and the tools for improving the development of capacities for social innovation and social entrepreneurship in University programmes. Students4change will now undertake on-line and on-place training of selected teachers of pilot university programs, so they can deploy and test the methodology and tools with their students and communities. As a result of the whole process, the project will offer a comprehensive, refined and tested framework, tools and materials (an app, books, guide, on-line platform) available for teachers in Latin America to improve the quality of teaching to better develop the capacities of social innovation and social entrepreneurship of their students.

Drawing on key concepts of capability approach, we can better address both the impacts and the process of the project.

In terms of impact, capability approach can help us to unveil the multiple contribution of the Students4Change for human development. First, improving the capacities for social innovation and social entrepreneurship of students implies the expansion of capabilities of future professionals in a number of dimensions and aspects, from the capability to engage to the capability to create. Second, the project will offer the means for teachers to expand their capabilities for a meaningful and responsible teaching, among others. Finally, the projects aims at a broader impact in communities: as long as the pilot and the potential courses to be benefited by the project take place in very different cities, universities and areas of knowledge, the project expects to contribute to human development in very different and significant ways.

In terms of the process, the project has to consider the multiple social, personal and environmental conversion factors that can facilitate or hinder the process of transforming new methodological approaches and materials into new capabilities for students, teachers and local communities. By developing specific pilot courses, the project may offer new light for better understanding how institutional, motivational, personal or economical aspects, among others, model how teaching can expand the capabilities of students to engage in the problems of local communities.

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