Entrepreneurship with Purpose

planetary boundaries, entrepreneurship, idea development
Pilot domain:
Sustainability & Climate Change
ECTS credits:
Mode of delivery:
Universität Duisburg-Essen
Annemarie Bloch
Study cycle:
Additional info
Please indicate participation through AURORA in your e-mail subject. E.g. “AURORA – Entrepreneurship with Purpose”
Information and Communication Technologies

SDG3. Good health and well-being, SDG4. Quality education, SDG9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure, SDG12. Responsible consumption and production, SDG13. Climate action
Course credit:
Free course:
Aurora competence framework:

Start date:
End date:
Application start:
Application deadline:

This course is all about you and your ideas, purposeful doings, sustainability and teamwork.
In Entrepreneurship with Purpose, students learn about the characteristics of entrepreneurial ventures that are driven by a dual mission: a strong social, societal and/or ecological purpose alongside economic goals. They learn about, discuss, and reflect upon social and economic purpose during ideation, team building and business modelling. They get acquainted with ideas, tools, processes and methods from various “practices” in business and organisations, like Theory U, New Work and Design Thinking.
Students are invited to reflect upon and critically explore if and how social/ecological and economic purpose can be potentially aligned in entrepreneurial ventures. Individually and in teamwork, they reflect upon how personal values can drive the various blocks of a venture creation process. They experiment in teams to deal with potentially conflicting values and interests to jointly find out how to align them in a collectively created idea.
Both ‘Theory U’, a process and method developed and applied by the Presencing Institute (Otto Scharmer, Katrin Kaeufer & team) and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN) give structure to the course. They are used as methods and tools to explore individual values and mindsets, they frame the teamwork and serve as reference for sustainability.

You’ll learn about
• 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations
• Earth’s systems and planetary boundaries
• Theory U as process and method
• Purpose for the individual and the enterprise, deep purpose
• Values in the individual, a team and for a business
• Organization, roles and functions in a team
• (Digital) tools for organization, idea development and project execution
• Business Model Canvas for understanding and building business ideas
• Business Model Canvas and Sustainability
• Idea development, design thinking tools and thinking
Sessions with input and teamwork will alternate with sessions of self-studying individually and in teams.

This course is part of a collaboration with the Freie Universität Berlin / Digital Entrepreneurship Hub, Stiftung Entrepreneurship (Berlin) and the Presencing Institute (located at MIT, USA). Check out our very first course at FU Berlin on Instagram in summer 2023: @entrepreneurship.with.purpose . Last year, it came to UDE, as part of our chair and Place Beyond Bytes, your co-creation lab in Duisburg. It is now also offered through AURORA.

Max. number of participants in total: 40
Important Information:
For this course, we will meet 5 times online between April and July. We will have a block session in person from Aug 19 till Aug 23. In-between, you’ll be working in teams on your own projects.

If you already have an idea for an impactful solution, please indicate that in your registration as well. However, this is not obligatory.

Register until April 5th.
If you are late to register, please write an email to Annemarie and join the online session on April 10th, 2-4pm (Zoom-LInk will be provided here on that day). First write, first serve principle and only if spots are still available. For AURORA students: You can still apply until latest 19th of April and will be updated on contents and tasks so far.

We meet online on:
April 10, April 24, May 15, May 29, and July 17 between 14:00 and 16:00
Zoom-Link will be sent prior to the course.

We meet in person in the week of:
Aug 19 till Aug 23, each day from 9:30 until 16:15
at Place Beyond Bytes in Duisburg

Portfolio: a) Mid-term presentation of results (17th of July, online). b) Final presentation of results in last session (23rd of Aug., in person)

For a successful completion of the course, active and regular participation is needed. Why? You’ll be working in teams everyone in a team wants to have equal and fair learning and contribution parts. Plus, it is all about your ideas.
Active participation contains “homework” that is prepared in advance for single sessions. What does this mean? You’ll be continuously working on and for your own idea. You will also be developing them throughout the course. Regular participation in activities is simply more fun for all. This concerns specifically tools and methods used for ideation processes as well as concerning applications of Theory U – again all for you and your ideas. Regular pitches of the current state of work are part of the course, too.
While this may all sound a lot – the most important thing is that you have time in this course to pursue your own ideas, discover yourself and what is important to you and how you can create purposeful ventures through this. And throughout all this, we won’t forget to have fun 🙂
Literature will be given in class next to video and audio material.
It is beneficial for students to get acquainted with concepts in and ideas behind the Business Model Canvas (BMC). More material on the BMC will be given throughout the course.

Osterwalder, A., Pigneur, Y., Bernarda, G., & Smith, A. (2015). Value proposition design: How to create products and services customers want. John Wiley & Sons.
Osterwalder, Alexander, Pigneur, Yves. (2011): Business Model Generation, Frankfurt am Main 2011.
Scan through the book, get an idea and zoom into the nine sections of the BMC, so you have an idea prior to the course, what the sections entail.

Target Group
This interdisciplinary course aims at students from different backgrounds enrolled in either any type of bachelor programme at University of Duisburg-Essen that is part of their own study programme (Bachelor of Information Systems or Bachelor of Business Administration) or allows them to take the course as part of their E3 electives. This also concerns Master students.

Approach and methods
Participants are invited to take part in a BEVI survey (Beliefs, Events, and Values Inventory). This survey is done before and after the course and takes about 2x 30 minutes. It allows the students to see their own development through the course and gives the lecturers a better idea of their courses impact.

Course participants are expected to take part actively and regularly and prepare after and/or before different sessions. In-between the online session and the in-person block seminar, the participants will work independently and in teams on their own ideas (in June/July) for co-creation processes. In the block seminar week, participants will get to know practitioners, work on their prototype (hands-on) and explore sources of inspiration in an excursion.

The interdisciplinary constellation of students with various backgrounds prepares ground for exchange and discovery of different mindsets, perspectives and working styles. This mirrors conditions and societal realities in the working world and the circumstances under which ideas are developed and efficient groupwork can take place.

Learning outcomes:
The students will be able to
•know of different forms and meanings of entrepreneurship, e. g. social entrepreneurship, innopreneurship and others.
•investigate their own values and personal purpose and get to know how this relates to entrepreneurial endeavors.
•know the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) of the United Nations (UN) and can categorize business ideas from enterprises and their own ideas into the SDGs.
•know different methods and tools for ideation processes and apply these in a team to create own ideas that are addressing social and/or ecological challenges on a local or global level.
•allocate their ideas within the SDGs as a framework of reference for purposeful entrepreneurship.
•know and apply business model framework(s) to design their own business ideas that are addressing social and/or ecological challenges on a local and/or global level with the SDGs as a framework of reference.
•know and apply (digital) tools and methods for effective team organisation and management.
•know elements of Theory U as a process and method for change management, transformation and leadership development (Otto Scharmer & Katrin Kaeufer, Presencing Institute).
•apply chosen methods and tools from Theory U individually, in teamwork and in relation to their business ideas.
•start to develop an understanding of systemic connections regarding our natural ecosystems and their relevance for entrepreneurial endeavours.

This course allows you to collect credits for the certificate for Education on Sustainable Development, BNE at University of Essen-Duisburg.