Youth-led Social Entrepreneurship and Engagement

Research Team:

Dr. Amelia Clarke, University of Waterloo, Canada

Ilona Dougherty, Youth advocate, public policy innovator and co-founder of Apathy is Boring

Previous students: How-sen Chong (MEM, Yale University), Elaine Ho (MES), Yingying (Scarlett) Sheng (BES), and Wen Tian (BES).

Project Description:

The overarching goal of this research project is to enable environmental and social change through youth-led social ventures (or initiatives).

One recent study explored how youth have created social change in Canada from 1963 to 2012. The objectives of the research included defining youth-led engagement in Canada, understanding youth's role as a change agent, and mapping the paths between successes and strategies used. 

Our results show that youth-led social entrepreneurship has a positive impact on young project leaders and on society as a whole. Additionally, impacts from youth-led engagement can be seen from micro to macro levels - creating lasting effects that can be felt from individual to international levels. Achieving impacts are based on a number of factors including: strategy used, scale of impact, type of engagement, and type of organization.

Future recommendations for young leaders include which strategies are likely to be most successful, what type of engagement is most effective, and how to have the greatest impact. Young leaders need to recognize their strengths and limitations in order to overcome obstacles when launching their own project.

Related Outputs:

Contact information

Amelia Clarke

Director, Master of Environment and Business (MEB) program and Associate Professor

School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED)

University of Waterloo