The Beginning is the End is the Beginning

I think one reason I have enjoyed this class so much is because the things I have learned have been applicable to me in a uniquely personal way. It’s hard to summarize a four months of learning in a blog post, but the following are a few unique takeaways I’ve had after a semester of Do Good, Better instruction:

My role in the social innovation space

I had a strong interest in social innovation for quite some time before taking this class, but I always struggled to see where I could fit in the space. For a while I think I used a “shotgun spray approach”—I talked to anyone and everyone I could about my passion for social innovation and I snatched at every opportunity to get involved, even if it wasn’t as aligned with my skills or interests.

However, this class has helped me to be more strategic about my participation in social innovation and the unique value I can bring to the space. Now I see that I don’t have to be a social entrepreneur to be involved, that there is no specific social entrepreneurship major or path, and that my marketing and communications skills can be put to use in a number of ways—working for a social entrepreneur, doing marketing for a larger foundation that supports social entrepreneurs, working as an intrapreneur within a corporate organization to help it be more socially innovative, etc.

Now instead of spraying everything with shotgun pellets I think I’m using more of a classy revolver or James Bond-style handgun.

Self-Confidence

As I talked about in my midterm post, this class has also helped me gain confidence in myself and in my abilities to tackle difficult problems. Our class discussions helped me to be ok with unanswered questions and forced me to develop my own perspectives about tough social issues rather than relying on the opinions of others.  Discovering my role in the space has also helped me feel more confident my ability to provide value and to be an agent for change.

Safety in the classroom

This classalso helped me to feel completely safe in a classroom environment for the first time. It’s not that I necessarily feel uncomfortable in other classes, but I definitely have never felt safe enough and supported enough to share some of the thoughts I’ve shared this semester with the Do Good, Better class. It has been such a safe harbor knowing that this is a space where I can always share what I’m thinking and that I will be validated and responded to, that people will be respectful and will really consider my opinions. Not everyone will agree of course, but it’s nice to know this is a safe place for discussion of tough issues and personal experiences.

What real learning looks like

Lastly, a final unique takeaway I had from the class is a great sketch of what learning should look like in a university setting. Real education should not require rote memorization, regurgitation of facts, cutthroat competition, and black-and-white, cookie-cutter answers. Education should be hands-on, experimental, and authentic. It should be creative, exploratory, and sometimes a bit ambiguous. And as students, we should be expected to become stewards of our own learning—we should take initiative, pay attention to how we learn best, and seek applications for our newly acquired knowledge. Thanks for offering a great example of what education can really look like.

 

As for continuing the process of self-reflection and layered learning, I already have some ideas:

A Do Good, Better alumni book club/lunch group

Most of the class expressed interest in the idea of continuing to meet next semester and using our time to discuss books we’ve read, social innovation material we’ve found, and new ideas we have.

Journal about the questions from the beginning of class

I loved the questions you gave us to discuss at the beginning of each class, but I never felt like I had enough time to think about them before answering. I know that I learn a lot about myself through writing, so I plan to go back and answer each of those questions at length in my journal.

Follow and regularly review my social innovation pathway

I loved the final activity of developing a personal social innovation pathway for 20 years down the road. I took the exercise seriously, and I’m really excited about the plan I came up with. I think that it will help me to keep learning and growing if I revisit that document on a regular basis to see if I’m on track and to add and adapt it as my circumstances change and as I gain more experience.

I’m excited about the things I have learned this semester and about the plans I have to continue learning. Thanks for a great class!

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