About the Project Creating Social Impact

The European Commission’s latest Higher Education Modernisation Agenda highlights the transformative role of universities in society. Rather than being actors of only economic impact, HEIs need to strengthen their ‘civic’ responsibilities. Despite the argued relevance for more social engagement, respective societal engagement mechanisms have not been well developed in the HEIs. Indeed, the latest numbers show universities still have relatively more technology transfer offices than civic engagement ones. Consequently, we still witness a focus on universities’ business engagement compared to, e.g. community building or collaborations with NGOs, ultimately hampering the social impact of HEIs’ activities. Simultaneously, the ongoing pandemic of Covid-19 amplifies the need for HEI’s societal engagement. The current times of uncertainty and destabilization form the background against which societal engagement is most needed. Indeed, HEIs can be a fruitful source for supporting societal recovery by transferring leading-edge insights to society. This science-to-society transfer is extremely important, given that Covid-19 has brought about societal challenges (e.g., how to let elderly citizens participate in a socially distant society) that we need to solve to ensure the prosperity of our economies and societies.

The unpredictable context of Covid-19 creates new opportunities for digital community engagement, which can be embedded in HEI’s teaching and learning activities. However, these opportunities are not straightforward to implement and thus present substantial challenges for HEIs, ultimately limiting the likelihood of implementation. Creating societal impact through digital teaching formats comes with the following core challenges:

Lack Of 'Easy To Implement' Digital Teaching Formats

In the early phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, the activities of HE lecturers had to quickly shift towards ‘mainly digital’ to comply with the emerging social distancing paradigm. While most HE lecturers succeeded quickly (sometimes even rough-and-ready) in transforming into digital teaching, the focus was predominately on the ‘core’ content. In other words, pursuing the ‘third mission’ of the HEI (i.e., creating societal impact) is lagging due to the absence of digital formats, which HE lecturers can easily implement.

Absence Of He Lecturers' Skills To Create Societal Impact Via Digital Teaching Formats

HE lecturers engaged in teaching currently lack an adequate skill set to design and conduct teaching formats beyond the ‘core’ content of the curriculum. Whereas technological tools have grown in numbers, HE lecturers frequently rely on mainstream tools and methods, thereby neglecting hitherto niche (frugal) solutions. This focus on a few mainstream solutions ultimately hampers the social impact of digital teaching formats.

No 'One Size Fits All’-teaching Format for Generating Social Impact

Previous research has emphasized the complexity of social challenges. Subsequently, to tackle these challenges, HE lecturers are confronted with the need to design teaching formats that can be adapted to the specific challenge, ultimately overcoming the “one size fits all”-paradox.

The focal project tackles these challenges by integrating (a.) expertise of science-to-society transfer tools (i.e., tools and instruments to overcome transfer barriers in science/society projects and thus to connect science and society successfully) for tailor-fit approaches to create societal impact, and (b.) expertise of how to enable HE lecturers in digital teaching formats. Consequently, this project will develop a Digital Configurator which allows the creation of social impact through customized digital teaching formats. The digital configurator will give birth to customized digital social impact generation (DSIG) courses. Through considering the particularities of the social challenges as well as the current digital skill set of the HE lecturer, the Digital configurator suggests custom-fit digital teaching formats, ultimately equipping HE lecturers to foster their role as being socially engaged. Beyond this, the configured DSIG courses enable students to get involved in an actual societal challenge beyond online lectures, thereby fostering students’ entrepreneurial and social thinking and acting.

Moreover, the project applies an iterative development process, thereby continuously incorporating feedback from all target groups to ensure the high relevance of the Digital Configurator. Lastly, a ‘training for scaling workshop concept’ will ensure capacity building for HE lecturers from beyond the project partner consortium. Thereby, the continuation and application of the developed project resources are ensured ¬ beyond the end of the project and across European HEIs.

1. Preface

During the course configurator testing period we have used it for the teaching activities and courses at project partner’s institutions. Based on our experience we have created 20 different course templates which are ready to use and available at our webpage under the resource tab. This course templates were tested in classrooms at project partner’s institutions.

On our website, everyone will be able to find all 20 course template PDF files we have created. You can download them and use them in your classes or you can test them to find how the configurator works or you can create your own course with help of the templates we have prepared.

2. Course Templates

# Course title Study level & Field of study Short description of the course content Step in the configurator - design / Tools and activities used Step in the configurator - delivery / Tools and activities used Step in the configurator - reflect / Tools and activities used Social impact Download
New Products Management
Undergraduate / Business Economics
The course is focused on the following thematic aspects of developing and managing new products and services. Classroom exercise in which the students are given a shorty case study depicting a specific company and situation on a market. The goal of the exercise is to generate ideas for a new product.
Empathy map canvas, Miro, Google Drive
Qualitative interview, Persona, Pitch presentation, Miro
Outcomes harvesting
New solutions (products or services) for addressing a social issue
Operations Management - process design
Graduate / Business Economics
The course is focused on operations management in the companies and their improvement. Classroom exercise in which the students are given task for creating a new process in organizations working in Croatia. The goal of the exercise is to create new processes for products or services which can increase organizations social impact.
Five whys, World Caffee, Miro, Google Drive
Classic Brainstorm, Changeboards, Miro, Zoom
Here There Everywhere; UCD Impact Canvas; Flipgrid
New processes or products for increasing social impact
Franchising - Social franchising
Graduate / Business Economics
The course is focused on the franchising as a way of growing and expanding business but also as a way on starting new ventures. Classroom exercise in which students are given tasks of proposing potential social franchising ventures
Five whys, Culture mapping tool, Miro
Business Model Canvas, Pitch Presentation, Canva, Miro
Lessons learned, Theory of change, Answer garden
Franchising as a tool for creating social impact - proposing new franchising ideas - i.e., clean water, accessible health services, mamatrepreneurs, etc.
Sourcing and buyers’ services - sourcing in crisis
Graduate / Business Economics
The course is focused on sourcing as an important business function for company's success. Part of the course is focused on sourcing in crisis. Classroom case study in which students need to propose how sourcing can be used in dealing with crisis - learning how they can help people in need
Planning for impact framework, Padlet
Check in - Check out; Prototyping; Usability test; Miro
Theory of change; Mentimeter
How can sourcing be used for responses (i.e., delivering needed materials in cases of war, earthquakes, etc.) to a different crisis we are facing in modern world
Entrepreneurial strategies
Graduate / Business Economics
The course focuses on strategic thinking and management of organizations in all three sectors (private, public, and non-profit). The goal is to teach students how to apply the tools of strategic analysis and management in organizations. Classroom exercise requiring students to identify organization's stakeholders and their interests (expectations), impact, and influence on organization's performance
Stakeholder Expectation Matrix, Padlet
Persona, Slack
The 5R framework for reflection
Students help organizations increase their social capital and create new collaborations
Entrepreneurship in Non-profit organizations
Graduate / Business Economics
The course helps students understand the problems and challenges non-profit organizations face and gives them opportunity to be a part of solution to those challenges creating a social value for those organizations. Course project - working on problems and challenges non-profit organizations face. The students then throughout the course work in teams and follow structured procedure of how to research, analyse and deliver solutions.
Planning for impact framework, Miro
Classic Brainstorm, Idea Selection Based on Weighted Criteria, Slack, Zoom
Outcomes harvesting, SEROI +
Students will be able to identify problems in non-profit organizations, analyse them, and propose solutions based on available resources, ultimately helping non-profits and empowering them with new insights and perspectives/approaches in solving their problems.
Business model creation
Graduate / Business Economics
The course is focused on creation of business models, but also on understanding the connection between business models and success of the business entity. The task is to create new product for the client, but also to modify existing business model.
World Caffe
Idea Selection Based on Weighted Criteria
5R Framework for Reflection
How generating of business ideas can change the world in which we are living, helping people in different communities to organise and start the changes
Opportunity Recognition
Undergraduate / Business Economics
The main task of the course is to teach students how to create and evaluate business idea. To task is to generate business ideas that will be in line with their wishes, skills, motivation and behaviour
The Ambasador Concept
Here, there, everywhere
UN SDGs should be part of every business ideas in order to fulfill them
Financing of SMEs
Undergraduate / Business Economics
The course of focused on sources of financing SMEs according to their life cycle. Choosing the appropriate source for financing business ideas, having in mind strengths and weaknesses of the idea
Empathy map canvas
Theory of change
How crowdfunding can be used for the project with social impacts
Consultancy for SMEs
Graduate / Business Economics
The aim of the course is to teach students to identify problem, find the appropriate methodology or tools of problem solving and recommendations design.
Five Whys
Plus Minus Interesting
Outcomes harvesting
Learning how to consult different stakeholders to start social change
Marketing projects
Undergraduate / Graduate / Business Economics
A mixed group of Bachelor and Master students collaborate to solve a challenge by an NGO/non-profit (e.g., fundraising campaign for a non-profit)
Activities: Kanban, Stakeholder expectation matrix; Tools: Miro, Dropbox
Activities: Classic Brainstorm, Business Model Canvas, Qualitative Interview, Idea selection based on weighted criteria, Persona, Pitch presentation; Tools: Canva, Slack, Zoom
Activities: Lessons learned, 5R framework; Tools: Mentimeter
Enabling social organisations to improve their fundraising, thus creating sustainable social impact on a broader scale
Undergraduate / Graduate / Engineering
Provide a mixed group of students with the task to improve the lives of disabled students
Activities: Empathy Map Canvas, Ambassador Concept, KANBAN; Tools: Padlet, Google Drive, Dropbox
Activities: Change boards, five whys, golden circle, persona, pitch presentation, prototyping, usability test, thinking hats; Tools: Gather, Canva, Zoom, Slido
Activities: Lessons learned, Here there everywhere; Tools: Answer garden
Social Impact competition
Undergraduate / Linguistics
The aim of the course was to increase the level of English by using the elements of Irish tradition Activity is connected to writing and presenting a short story
Student challenge competitions; Culture mapping; Google drive
Mindmaps, Lean canvas; Canva
Outcome harvesting; Answer garden
Intercultural relations
Epistemology of everyday life
Graduate / Anthropology / Ethnology
The aim of the course is to understand ways of discovering the social reality and applying anthropological skills and knowledge to develop people-centred solutions. The activity aim is development of the solution for the promotion of sustainable lifestyle.
Engaged research; Miro
Pitch presentation, prototyping; Moodle, Miro, Zoom
Lessons learned; Answer garden
Improved habits connected to sustainable lifestyle (mobility, waste management, energy consumption etc.)
Anthropology of contemporary Slovenia
Undergraduate / Anthropology / Ethnology
The aim of the course was to research mobility habits in urban area (e.g., Ljubljana) and address a chosen challenge by proposing a sustainable and people centred solution. Qualitative research and development of suggestions for sustainable mobility.
World cafe, social impact challenges; Google drive
Classic brainstorm, five whys; Moodle
Outcomes harvesting, Lessons learned; SEROI+, Answer garden
Sharing recommendations and ideas with decision makers.
English teaching
High school / Linguistics
In the framework of teaching English, it is important to address the cultural differences withing the group and incorporating the importance if intercultural differences amongst the participants. Activity includes writing a presentation of a trip with family - describing trip, family members and the cultural differences they experience.
Cultural mapping; Empathy Map Canvas; Goole Drive
Zoom, Moodle
Pitch presentation; Moodle, Google classroom
Intercultural relations
Social topics explained
Undergraduate / Business Marketing
Students learn about how to conduct research, check facts, identify fake information, and discern critical news. They produce podcasts about different important topics (e.g., care work, technological impact on daily lives and jobs, climate change). The topics and different statements regarding them are then discussed in debates.
Kanban, Theory of change, Five Whys Padlet, Dropbox
Backbiting, competence sun, Mind maps, qualitative interviews, thinking hats; Slack, Zoom, Coggle
Lessons learned, 5R framework Mentimeter
Intercultural thinking; awareness for social impact of today's important topics; debating skills of students enable discussions about how to react to change (climate change, technological change, etc.)
Active8 Planet
Undergraduate / Graduate / Interdisciplinary
Learning cycles consists of four iterative phases: (1) challenge exploration; (2) Researching and discovering the unmet needs; (3) Analysis and interpretation of data; (4) Co-creation of concept. Research on sustainable urban mobility practices and development of planet-centred sustainable solutions.
World cafe; Google drive, Miro
Qualitative interview, persona, pitch presentation; zoom,
Theory of change, ambassador concept;
Qualitative recommendations for user-friendly and planet cantered car sharing application.
Project management
Graduate / Business Economics
The course is focused on project management as an important topic in today's business. Classroom exercise in which the students are given task for propose a project with the social impact.
Encouraging Prosocial Actions in Students; Kanban, Miro
Usability test, Canva, Zoom
Lessons learned, Mentimeter
Increased knowledge about social problems in society and how to change them within project approach
Christmas Campaign: Reaching Disadvantaged Families
High school / Undergraduate / Interdisciplinary
Campaign to understand the needs of disadvantaged families at Christmas, to organise activities to meet these needs and to reflect upon these activities for wider learning. The teacher will facilitate students' learning to empathise with families who find Christmas difficult for different reasons, to implement their own activities to meet these needs and then to reflect on these activities for future and wider learning.
Empathy Map Canvas; Miro
Competence Sun; Canva
Here, There and Everywhere, Mentimeter
Empathising with those in need in society, implementing activities which meet these needs and reflecting upon these implemented activities for wider learning.