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Social Innovation in Action


Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Admission requirements

This course is an (extracurricular) Master Honours Class aimed at talented Master’s students. Admission will be based on motivation, academic background, and GPA.

This course is aimed at students who are interested in learning how societal challenges can be tackled using entrepreneurial tools to achieve positive social and/or environmental change. You are not required to have any past business acumen, but must have an interest in (social) business modelling.


In today’s vibrant economy, we witness a strong undercurrent of change in economic thinking. The importance of social integration, once a rather frozen concept, has begun to thaw; people, companies and governments are exploring and grasping the importance of embedding society within business practice to achieve longer-term survivability and positive growth prospects. The question is; How can we use business-thinking to tackle social challenges?

In this dynamic course, you are tasked with finding a business-solution to a real social problem faced by the city of Leiden. You will step into the shoes of a ‘social entrepreneur’ and learn what it means to set up your own social enterprise. As a class, you will be assigned a societal challenge in one of the neighbourhoods in Leiden. You will then work in groups of 3 or 4 to develop a solution to this problem using entrepreneurial and design thinking. The course will take you on an 20-week journey to understand the different puzzle pieces that make up a social enterprise start-up idea. At the end of the course, your solutions will be pitched to local stakeholder of Leiden and a winning idea will be selected!

This is a high-paced, innovative course that allows you to apply your skills and theory to real-life solutions. As such, be prepared to work fast and think creatively!

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Have a thorough understanding of the foundations of social entrepreneurship theory

  • Be able to apply theories and tools to assess complex societal challenges

  • Be able to apply theories and tools to develop a social enterprise blueprint.

  • Be able to critically assess their ideas using assumption testing

  • Be able to present and pitch their solutions to multiple (real) stakeholders

  • Be able to work within a group of students with diverse backgrounds

  • Improve your presentation skills and your report writing skills.


This course runs from 1 November until 4 April on Thursdays, 16.00-19.00 (with the exception of 27 December and 3 & 10 January).


PLNT Leiden, Langegracht 70.


The course is broken up into three phases; problem phase, ideation phase and solution phase. This is based on the double diamond principle of design thinking. By adopting this process, you will first look at the societal problem, then generate ideas to solve the problem and finally pick your winning idea.


  • Class 1 Understanding your social challenge pt. 1: Visit from local stakeholder

  • Class 2 Excursion: 24hr Social Impact challenge - hosted by PLNT


  • Class 3 Understanding your social challenge pt. 2:Ecosystem mapping

  • Class 4 Understanding your social challenge pt. 3: Beneficiary analysis

  • Class 5 Understanding your social challenge pt. 4: Issue tree analysis

  • Class 6 Understanding your social challenge pt. 5: Assumption testing of societal challenge

  • Class 7 Present your social challenge to local stakeholders


  • Class 8 Social enterprise theory pt.1: The social entrepreneur

  • Class 9 Social enterprise theory pt.2: The business model + idea generation

  • Class 10 Social enterprise theory pt.3: Value proposition + market analysis

  • Class 11 Social enterprise theory pt.4: Funding and Finance

  • Class 12 Social enterprise theory pt.5: Impact Measurement

  • Class 13 Social enterprise theory pt.6: Assumption testing of solution

  • Class 14 Pitch your ideas in class


  • Class 15 Social Enterprise Blueprinting pt. 1: Blended Value Creation – combining social and commercial value creation

  • Class 16 Social Enterprise Blueprinting pt. 2: One-on-one Group speed coaching

  • Class 17 Social Enterprise Blueprinting pt. 3: Business plan writing

  • Class 18 Social Enterprise Blueprinting pt. 4: Present your assumption experiments and results

  • Class 19 Social Enterprise Blueprinting pt. 5: How to pitch your idea

  • Class 20 Pitch final solution to stakeholders

Course load

This course is worth 10 EC, which means the total course load equals 280 hours.

  • Lectures: 19 lectures of 3 hours = 60 hrs

  • Excursion: 1 excursion of 24 hours

  • Literature reading & practical work: 6 hours p/week = 120 hrs

  • Assignments & final essay: 80 hrs


Group Assessment 60%

  • 15% Group report: Societal challenge

  • 15% Group report: Business proposal

  • 5% In-class Group presentation UNDERSTAND: Societal challenge

  • 5% In-class Group presentation DEVELOP: Business concept

  • 5% In-class Group presentation DELIVER: Assumption testing

  • 15% FINAL Group pitch for stakeholders

Individual Assessment 40%

  • 10% Participation in lectures and structured activities

  • 30% Individual assignment – Examine and critically reflect on one existing social enterprise case and apply learnings to the societal problem and your group solution.

Examination of this Master Honours Class consists of several partial exams. Students could only pass this course after successful completion of all partial exams.

Note: attendance is required.

Blackboard and uSis

Blackboard will be used in this course. Students can register for the Blackboard site two weeks prior to the start of the course.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Reading list

  • Martin, R. L., & Osberg, S. (2015). Getting beyond better: How social entrepreneurship works. Harvard Business Review Press.

  • Kickul, J., & Lyons, T. S. (2016). Understanding social entrepreneurship: The relentless pursuit of mission in an ever changing world. Routledge.

  • Bloom, P.N. and Dees, G. (2008), Cultivate your ecosystem. Stanford social innovation review, 6(1), pp.47-53.

  • Bugg-Levine, A., Kogut, B., & Kulatilaka, N. (2012). A new approach to funding social enterprises. Harvard Business Review, 90(1/2), 118-123. (Available online)

  • Forti, M. (2012), Six Theory of Change Pitfalls to Avoid.Stanford social innovation review. Accessed 28 January, 2018. Available at:

  • Johansson-Sköldberg, Ulla et. al (2012). “Design Thinking: Past, Present and Possible Futures.” Creativity and Innovation Management 22(2):121–146

  • Judit Kertesz (2017) Introduction to empathy maps. RealTimeBoard. Accessed: 29 January 2018. Available at:

  • Mitchell, R.K., B.R. Agle and D.J. Wood, 1997, “Toward a Theory of Stakeholder Identification and Salience: Defining the Principle of Who and What Really Counts”, Academy of Management Review, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 853-886.

  • Monarth, H. (2015) The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool. HBR

  • Twersky, F., Buchanan, P., & Threlfall, V. (2013). Listening to those who matter most, the beneficiaries. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 11(2), 40-45.

  • Peredo, A. M., & McLean, M. (2006). Social entrepreneurship: A critical review of the concept. Journal of world business, 41(1), 56-65. (Available online)

  • Bloom, P.N. and Dees, G. (2008), Cultivate your ecosystem. Stanford social innovation review, 6(1), pp.47-53.

  • Alter, K., 2007. Social enterprise typology. Virtue Ventures LLC, 12, pp.1-124.

  • Twersky, F., Buchanan, P., & Threlfall, V. (2013). Listening to those who matter most, the beneficiaries. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 11(2), 40-45.

  • Strategyzer, A.G., 2015. The value proposition canvas. Retrieved at January, 10, p.2016.

  • Gregersen, H., 2018. Better Brainstorming. Harvard Business Review. March 2018 Issue. Accessed 7 March. Available at:

  • Dees, G. & Anderson, B., 2004., Scaling Social Impact. Accessed 24 April, 2018. Available at:

  • Forti, M. (2012), Six Theory of Change Pitfalls to Avoid.Stanford social innovation review. Accessed 28 January, 2018. Available at:

Other possible literature will be announced in Class or via Blackboard and is different per lecturer.


Enrolling in this course is possible from 17 up to and including 30 September through the Honours Academy. The registration link will be posted on the student website of the Honours Academy.


Ir. S.P. Louwaars

Dr. T.C. van der Spek