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Social Entrepreneurship & Sustainability

+++ Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the TU Berlin Summer University will not take place on campus this year. Registrations for our Summer University Online program are now open! +++

Summer University Term 2: July 6th - July 17th, 2020

Course price: 950 Euros

22 hours of class per week, 3 ECTS credit points, max. 24 participants



Is social entrepreneurship an adequate answer to today’s social and ecological challenges? How does a social entrepreneurship business model look like? Are there successful models to combine participation, social responsibility, welfare and profit orientation? Is sustainability a practicable guideline?

This course explores the manifold practices of social entreprneurship and sharing practices in their economic, cultural, social and political dimension. The panorama includes food rescue, medical care, car sharing and mobility solutions, community gardens, sufficiency startups and participative cultural festivals. Particularly the sharing economy is a fast-growing sector, contributing inspiring answers to today’s social challenges.

The seminar combines theory, debate, reflection, encounter and practice by exploring the idea of social entrepreneurship in contrast to traditional welfare models. It provides a concise overview on the most debated sustainability theories of these days, such as post growth, sufficiency, subsistence and common good models. To foster the transfer to practice, participants will elaborate groupwise an own social enterprise that develops solutions in response to the concerns of an identified marginalized social group (e.g. anorexics, juvenile prisoners, people suffering from multiple sclerosis etc.). To approach this goal, students will conduct a need assessment, describe the scope and the social situation of the target group by identifying their increased help requirement, consider the already existing auxiliary structures and their limitations and develop help and self-help services, preferably by focusing digital infrastructure.

Finally, the students will present their solutions in a 4 minutes pitch to an expert jury. Furthermore, the course includes a series of field trips to meet experts and representatives of promising start-ups and civil society initiatives in Berlin; it gives space for intensive debates and change of experiences with founders, initiators and support groups – benefitting from the unique density of Berlin’s creative capital and entrepreneurial spirit.

Learning Goals and Syllabus


Students will

  • acquire an overview about core intentions, objectives and limits of social entrepreneurship
  • receive insights in the fundamentals of social ethics and relevant recent sustainability theories (e.g. Nico Paech, Christian Felber, Kate Raworth etc.)
  • learn about the essentials of business model creation and innovation
  • obtain methods and tools to understand the situation of people with increased need requirement and receive guidance to develop a need assessment
  • learn about current sufficiency and sharing activities in Berlin by getting in touch personally with founders, social entrepreneurs, civil society representatives
  • explore methods to describe, discern and evaluate societal impact of social entrepreneurship
  • learn to reflect the transferability and application ability of the models and initiatives debated during course.
  • receive initial guidance for setting up own entrepreneurial and social business.
  • explore Berlin as a space of unique creativity for innovative entrepreneurship, self-help policy and citizens’ empowerment


Please find the syllabus for Summer University 2020 here.

You may find the syllabus useful when discussing with your home University whether the ECTS credits attainable for this course are accepted by them.


The general prerequisites of the TU Berlin Summer University are the following: at least one year of university experience + English level B2 or equivalent.


Dr. Thorsten Philipp (*1975) studied art history, Romance philology and political science at the universities of Munich, Vienna, Brescia and Aix-en-Provence.

He received his doctorate in 2009 at the Geschwister-Scholl-Institute of the University of Munich with a thesis on Christian social ethics and political ecology. Initially research fellow at the Institute for Theology and Society at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich (2007-09), he published as a visiting researcher at the Newman Institute in Uppsala (Sweden) in 2010.

Until 2012 he worked as a policy consultant in Brussels, focusing on environment and development. From 2014 to 2018, Thorsten Philipp worked at Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen heading two Executive Master programs "Digital Pioneering" and "Business & Leadership for Engineers".

Currently member of the President’s Task Force Excellence Strategy at TU Berlin, he is in charge of managing the Excellence Proposal of the Berlin University Alliance. His research is focused on sustainability theories and the interlink between popular music and sustainability. Thorsten Philipp teaches sustainability theories, political communication and environmental politics at Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Zeppelin Universität Friedrichshafen, Universität der Bundeswehr München and Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg Heilbronn. He is also a lecturer at TU Berlin’s Fakultät 1.

Recent Publications:

Popmusikforschung, in: E. Zemanek/U. Kluwick (Hg.): Nachhaltigkeit interdisziplinär. Konzepte, Diskurse, Praktiken. Ein Kompendium. Wien u.a.: Böhlau 2019.

Farmer, farmer, put away this DDT now: Umweltkonflikte und Verantwortungsdiskurse im Spiegel des populären Liedes, in: A. Henkel u.a. (Hg.): Reflexive Responsibilisierung: Verantwortung für nachhaltige Entwicklung. Bielefeld: transcript 2018.


Please direct questions about the course to the TU Berlin Summer University Team at: . We will answer your questions and direct specific queries regarding course content to the course lecturers where necessary.

Brochure & Poster Download

Check out our Brochure and Poster for Summer 2020!

Summer University Term 2: July 6th - July 17th, 2020

Course price: 950 Euros

22 hours of class per week, 3 ECTS credit points

Zusatzinformationen / Extras

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Beth Sibly, Director
+49 30 4472 0230