Natalie Kyriacou. Malala Yousafzai. Ayesha Vera-Yu. All social entrepreneurs who did not let their age or inexperience get in the way of achieving their dreams. And if all goes according to plan, twelve juniors from Roland Park Country School will soon follow in their footsteps.
RPCS is launching an exciting new leadership initiative which started yesterday with students enrolling in the acclaimed University of Cape Town’s (UCT) course in Social Innovation. As described by Director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Dr. Francois Bonnici, “Through this course in social innovation, we will challenge you to develop ways of thinking about the complexities of social change, ways to find hidden resources around you, using creative and design thinking to deepen your impact and ultimately to organize yourself for action. We want to get you started in becoming a change-maker.”
The six-week elective was orchestrated by Tony Harris, RPCS’s Innovator in Residence who used to teach social entrepreneurship at UCT. “To jumpstart RPCS initiatives in leadership, we are piloting a hybrid course that consists of online, collaborative workshop and individualized components. While students will be largely responsible for their own learning, course facilitators will be meeting with them on a regular basis to monitor progress and provide support,” said Harris.
According to Tasneem Jaffer, a course designer at UCT, RPCS students are breaking new ground. “We have undergraduate and graduate students from all over the world registering for this course but this is the first high-school group I am aware of,” commented Jaffer.
The course launched with an introductory workshop at the Spark coworking space in downtown Baltimore. “I am thrilled our students are getting out into the community and taking advantage of a place like Spark,” says Upper School Head Ereni Malfa. “Knowing that spaces like this exist in our cities helps give them the tools they will need to take on social innovation challenges in the future.”
The underlying premise of the course is that anyone with determination and the appropriate tools can make a difference.
Head of School Caroline Blatti is determined that RPCS graduates will leave the School with a pragmatic toolkit of competencies, skills and approaches crucial for navigating the hyper-connected, rapidly changing world of tomorrow. She is incredibly proud of the group of girls who signed up to take part in this course: “I am inspired by our students’ motivation to get involved in this opportunity to learn about social innovation and entrepreneurship. I am proud of their desire to impact social change. The students will learn about an incredibly important and relevant field while being emerged in case work that will give them real world perspective. This is an example of our school’s dedication to 21st century learning that prepares our students for the future.”
“Our graduates will be equipped to deal with ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty,” says Blatti. “More than anything, we want them to be worldly, principled and engaged problem-solvers.”