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Every year, the Public Affairs Conference hosts a series of speakers and workshops centered on a particular theme. The 2015 is social entrepreneurship, and the conference takes place March 26-28.
Senior Savanna Sprague, PAC’s co-executive director, explained, “Social entrepreneurship is the process of pursuing innovative solutions to social problems. A social entrepreneur is someone who sees a social need and creates a business to address the need. We see Toms Shoes as a very good example of this. … Their whole business model is about giving shoes to people in need. As consumers, Toms gives us a way to support social needs simply by purchasing a pair of shoes.”
Senior Molly Glascock, also co-executive director, added, “I really wanted to be able to present business in a positive light, but also I want to highlight this idea of finding a social issue or problem, and then working to solve it.”
The conference of speakers and workshops is made to inspire the student body and educate the students about something that they would have no exposure to otherwise.
“Social entrepreneurship is an up-and-coming process that is becoming very popular,” Sprague said. “We think it’s very important to educate and inspire the community with what we are learning. Molly Glascock… and I are learning more and more about social entrepreneurship as we move along with the planning process, and we are very eager to share with people all that we have learned.”
Principia has a long history with inviting first-class speakers to the campus for the student body. What makes PAC so special, then, is that it is the oldest student-run conference in the country, now entering its 66th year.
“When I was a freshman, I had no idea what PAC was, and I totally missed out. Since I went on an abroad my sophomore spring, I also missed PAC. I finally got to be involved with last year’s PAC on sustainability and I fell in love with what the conference brings to and teaches the community,” Sprague said. “We really hope that people decide to come and participate in the conference because it’s a really great way to join together as a community to listen to prominent speakers and to gain inspiration and insight into a topic, such as social entrepreneurship, that is becoming a big part in today’s society.”
Every year the conference wants its audience to be inspired and find growth. Glascock said, “My goal is for attendees to gain practical steps on how to pursue their own cause if they are interested, but also for those of us who probably will not be starting our own organization, to highlight companies and groups that are working to support social issues. We are all consumers as well as looking for jobs after school, so why not encourage people to work at and support companies and organizations that are working for good as well as being successful.”
Sprague concluded, “We want people to leave the conference feeling like they truly understand what they can do to make a difference. We want people to realize that you don’t have to go and start your own business or non-profit organization, but that you can make a difference simply by supporting socially aware and responsible companies.”