Schlegel Centre renamed
After becoming the second university in Canada to receive the Ashoka U Changemaker Campus designation in March, Wilfrid Laurier University continues to encourage the development of social entrepreneurship and innovation on campus.
The recent name change of the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship to the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation reflects this development.
Joanne Benham Rennick, director of social innovation and social entrepreneurship, emphasizes the importance of a focus on entrepreneurship and social change, spanning across all faculties on campus.
“The vision, now, is that it will simply be a home — a central area that everyone can acknowledge and recognize the various entrepreneurial activities that are happening across Laurier,” said Benham Rennick.
While the social entrepreneurship option exists under the faculty of arts, students across all faculties are encouraged to throw themselves into it. The option has been offered at Laurier since September of 2014.
Emily Barrieau, a third-year communications student, said that the reason she chose to pursue the option was the importance she believed social innovation has on the future of business.
“Social innovation and entrepreneurship is something that is going to gain popularity, especially as younger generations age and realize the possible benefits and as traditional businesses make the shift to socially mindful businesses,” said Barrieau.
The vision for the Schlegel Centre includes further development to academics, programming and spaces on campus that are used to encourage collaboration and idea generation among students.
One such location is the Purpose Lab, which was officially opened during the 2015-16 school year. Located on the first floor of the Dr. Alvin Woods Building, the lab offers a space for groups of students to come together and work on ideas that could spur positive social change.
“The purpose lab was a way to create a space [where you can] come and actually think about things that matter to you and work with others that have similar interests and we’ll help you find ways to flesh those ideas out, to expand them, to let them grow and foster them so that at some point you can build on that,” says Benham Rennick.
Benham Rennick’s experience in international development and academics has fostered her own passion for social entrepreneurship.
“The most effect and transformative projects happen at the grassroots level — by people who lived in the community and understood the complexity of the issues they were dealing with,” said Benham Rennick.
“When those people had access to tools and resources and methods, like entrepreneurship, they were able to engage and overcome those problems far far more effectively.”