With innovation being the buzz word of the world today, the world is in dire need of innovations that make our lives better and happier. The world at present needs new ideas that work especially from the younger population like students. With increasing number of subjects to study and with lots of other activities, students complain about lack of time to do something innovative, something challenging. But what if this process of innovation is a part of the curriculum? It was with this idea that ‘Social Innovation’ was introduced as a part of the curriculum in B.V.Bhoomaraddi College of Engineering and Technology, Hubli.
Social innovation in simple words refers to new ideas that meet unmet needs of the society. It was first introduced as a two credit course in the college in 2009. From then on, it has become an integral part of the curriculum. This course was introduced for the 1st year students as these students don’t undertake any project. Being an engineering college, the course was started with the objective of putting to use the engineering knowledge of the students to develop products or services needed for the society, create innovative solutions to existing problems and thereby leading more entrepreneurs. As a student of this college, I had this opportunity of being a part of this innovation in education.
As the subject itself deals with innovation, the teaching method is not restricted to the traditional chalk and blackboard. Students learn through discussions, faculty led presentations, case studies, videos, student presentations as well as direct exposure through field visits and guest speaker sessions. Special attention is given to the experimental learning process, which utilizes innovative activities and a group-based project to expose students to social innovation through firsthand experience.The curriculum includes an introduction to social innovation and the process of social innovation. It also deals with behavioral blocks to social innovation such as Negative Risk Propensity, Allergy to Ambiguity, Aversion to Criticism, Conditioned Conformity, Resource Myopia, Response Rigidity and Threatened Comforts as well as overcoming the same. The curriculum focuses mainly in bringing together social innovation and engineering. Guest lectures are organized to give an idea of how various organizations work and what are the resources available to undertake innovative projects. Guidance is also given on fundraising and budgeting.
The main part of the course is the short term project that the students undertake to put into practice what they have learnt. Students are encouraged to identify an issue faced by the local society and find solutions for the same. The issues identified relate to different areas. Once the idea for the project is generated, the idea is critically analyzed using methods like SWOT analysis. The analysis also involves stakeholder analysis. Once the analysis is over, the next step is budgeting and fundraising for the project and then finally implementation.
The ideas that students come up with every year are really innovative. Students have designed devices to make the work of people easier. A range of eco-friendly products like eco-friendly shampoos and dishwashers have been made. Students have also taken up projects for the better utilization of canteen waste and also the plastic waste. I was a part of the team that made an eco-friendly shampoo and the whole process was interesting and it taught me a lot. The course thus creates awareness about the entrepreneurial process, enabling the students to give a serious thought to entrepreneurship. It also builds communication, analytical thinking and decision making skills to become more effective and creative leaders. If students all over are encouraged in the same way, undoubtedly the number of student innovators will increase and our lives will also become better.
Want to join an entrepreneurship course? Check out the colleges that offer courses on entrepreneurship in India.
Byline credit: Reema D'souza