Student Business Ideas Help Change Local and Global Communities

Published: April 14, 2014

The UW Bothell educational experience often inspires students to collaborate on ideas that might contribute to the surrounding community. A new Social Enterprise course helps students to go beyond the classroom collaboration to actually implement sustainable programs.

During the summer of 2013, Director of Community Based Learning at UW Bothell Paul Markham teamed up with affiliate instructor and co-founder of Global Brigades Incorporated Steve Atamian to teach a course on the topic of social enterprise.

“The Social Enterprise course was designed as a distinctive way for UW Bothell to support students who have a passion to change the world, but want to do so through the creation of sustainable businesses,” explains Markham. “This is the first step in the hopeful creation of a larger Social Enterprise program here at UW Bothell.”

Markham and Atamian’s first measure of success was to assure that all students who participated had high impact learning experiences that prepared them for a variety of careers, as business owners and employees alike, with the essential skills of creative thinking and problem-solving. The secondary goal is to support students who develop social enterprise business plans and wish to take these ventures to market.

At the beginning the students did not have any clearly formed ideas, and through the course each was able to flesh out a business model.

One such collaboration is Cultural Immersion in Indian Country. Two of the three student collaborators on this project continued the work and launched it with the help of the CBLR and Admissions offices.

Rachael Meares and Shawn Peterson led a group of UW Bothell students on a cultural immersion Alternative Spring Break. “The experience was transformative,” says Meares. “We learned a great deal about the Tulalip Tribes, including their identity, culture, history, and natural resources.”

Meares says the group also met with Northwest Indian College students, staff and faculty to learn about their campus, curriculum and projects while enjoying the Friday potluck and salmon bake.

Both Meares and Peterson found an opportunity to grow the relationship from the seed that was planted during the Alternative Spring Break, “We learned from each other,” says Meares. “We plan to continue to contribute student volunteer efforts to the Tulalip Tribes Natural Resource Department Tulalip Bay restoration site. We look forward to seeing this site develop and change from a dry piece of land, to a wetland with medicinal plants.”

Watch this video to learn more about the Social Enterprise class and Cultural Immersion in Indian Country.

Click here to watch the video