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Social Projects in the form of 'Service Learning'

Social projects of the RepLab are aimed at the development and experience of implementation of the applied project learning modules which helps students to enhance their social competencies by involving in social and entrepreneurial activities, including the one in the form of 'service learning' (Project based service learning).
The project implies a launch of our own socially significant business via participating in the university business incubator as well as intellectual volunteering when students create projects upon the requests of social entrepreneurs or non-profit organisations of their region. All students who participate in the project take a course on social innovations which includes such sections as social entrepreneurship, impact investing, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, social sphere management, and social volunteering.

The course was developed by the experts of the Social Investment and Innovation Agency and Higher School of Economics taking into account the experience of the development of social entrepreneurship in both organisations.

The implementation of the social projects will help:
students - to gain important skills in doing practical activities and personally contribute to the social-economic development of regions, start new social enterprises and non-profit organisations;
universities - to launch start-up studios the creation of which is provided for in the national project 'Science and Universities' and a mechanism 'Start-up as a Thesis' for the development of not only technical but also social entrepreneurship and enhance their participation in the development of regions via implementation of the 'Third Mission';
local social enterprises and non-profit organisations - to get help in the strategic development of their organisations. 

In general, universities, social entrepreneurs and representatives of socially-oriented non-profit organisations will gain the experience of joint project interaction, the lack of which currently prevents the launch and efficient implementation of a great number of social projects.

An important part of students training at modern universities is project learning which allows them to supplement traditional lectures and seminars with students' participation in project implementation, including applied, technological and social ones.

In the student community, there appear teams of like-minded people who perform project activities in the social sphere and healthcare, education and upbringing, ecology and efficient use of natural resources, promotion of healthy lifestyles and so on.

The development of project learning is widely considered in Russian and foreign literature, for example:

Gaete, M. (2022). Service Learning through Applied Project Activities. Guidelines.

Gaete, M., Kim, M., Masich, V., Kulbaeva, A., Nikolskaya, A., & Skopina, A. (2021). Methodological Guide for Volunteers' Work (УДК 364.04). Griffon.
Project Learning. Implementation Practices in Universities. М.2018, https://publications.hse.ru/mirror/pubs/share/direct/376211321.pdf 
Harmer, N. and Stokes, A. (2014). The benefits and challenges of project-based learning: A review of the literature. Plymouth: Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory (PedRIO) paper 6, Plymouth University  Https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/uploads/production/document/path/5/5857/PedRIO_Paper_6.pdf 

Methodological Guide SERVICE LEARNING (Moscow, 2020)

One of the most effective approaches to developing project learning is project-based service learning. This method is based on forming project and entrepreneurial competencies via public benefit activities, in particular, in cooperation with social enterprises and socially-oriented non-profit organisations. The methods ensure the formation of such professional soft skills as the ability to work in a team and put the gained knowledge and skills into practice.

Another promising direction is engineering projects which contribute to the implementation of technological projects for social enterprises and non-profit organisations. For instance, in the framework of the programme EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service), which has been implemented since 1995 as part of the engineering design programme at the University Perdue, the students gathered in groups solve technological tasks for non-governmental organisations, mainly non-profit organisations in the local community. The projects cover the whole design cycle: problem identification — developing the specifics — developing a prototype — detailed work on the project — production — maintenance — dismantlement and can be implemented in the form of startups. By 2017, the programme EPICS was introduced in 35 universities (and more than 100 secondary educational institutions) https://engineering.purdue.edu/EPICS. 

By getting involved in the process of service learning, professors make their courses more significant for students. University administration ensures effective interaction with the university activities on the part of the community, business and regional authorities. At the same time, due to their involvement in the process of project learning, socially-oriented non-profit organisations and social enterprises gain effective support for their initiative through setting the tasks in the framework of student projects, and at the same time contribute to their effective implementation by sending their staff as mentors. Meanwhile, based on the students’ projects, they will initiate new start-ups—social enterprises and non-profit organisations.

Thus, the project will test and scale up the model of implementation support for student socially-oriented initiatives which not only ensures an increase in the results of professional training but also gives an additional impetus to the development of non-profit organisations and social enterprises via realising the Third University Mission.

Key directions of development of the social mission:

  • development of student entrepreneurship and social initiatives,
  • involvement of non-profit organisations in social and economic territory development,
  • participation in the programmes of social and economic territory development,

are reflected in the documents of the leading universities and the Russian government. Thus, activities to develop students’ entrepreneurship are provided for in the national projects 'Small and Medium Entrepreneurship and Support of Individual Business Initiative' and 'Science and Universities'.

The development of the mechanism of students’ applied project activities allows us to combine the tasks of increasing the quality of education with implementing projects of high social importance. At the same time, HSE Strategic Development Programme until 2030 defines the development of student project activities as one of the priorities. The Concept of development of volunteering in Russia describes the development of volunteering activities in academic institutions implemented through educational and consultative activities, and mentoring, in the form of 'learning via volunteering' which implies participation in volunteer projects and programmes of academic institutions at all levels of education. This project will help to reach a synergistic effect in solving the tasks of implementing some directions of the 'Third Mission' and developing applied project activities.

Social Project of the Laboratory 2022-2023:

Development of Fund-Raising Campaigns for the Charity Fund 'April'

Intellectual Volunteering — Helping Non-Profit Organisations in Solving Relevant Tasks

Kryshechki Dobroty — Strategy to Become Self-Financing

Sewing Workshop and Clothes Design for People with Various Specificities

Projects with 'Live Classics'

Social projects of the Laboratory 2021-2022:

1. Supporting charitable organisation 'Prospects' in recruiting volunteers for the voluntary social year: audience analysis

2. Expert Analysis of the Information Tools (website, social networks, crowd-funding platforms and so on) and Our Guidelines for the Charity Fund 'April'

3. Inclusion Every Day: Creating Fundraising Campaigns For Inclusive Centre 'Yom-Yom'

4. Promotion of the Inclusive Children's Developing Centre 'MANYA' on Social Networks

5. Conducting Interviews: U-turn. 'About LIfe. RealiTY', a Project with the Orthodox Local Religious Organisation—the parish of the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos in the South Seaside Park in St Petersburg

6. Promotion Strategy for the Charity Fund 'Support Point'

7. The Charity Fund for the Elderly 'Dobrodomik'

8. Intellectual Volunteering — Helping Non-Profit Organisations in Solving Relevant Tasks

The projects are implemented with the support of the Presidential Grants Fund and the Social Investment Fund.

You also can support our projects, contribute to the development of the city and society, popularisation of intellectual volunteering in Russia and implementation of sustainable development goals!


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