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Institute of Public Affairs Management exchanges social innovation experience with Lion City

Earning experience overseas is always of great help! The Institute of Public Affairs Management, NSYSU, started a course regarding international exchange on non-profit and community organizations to allow students to gain global perspectives and nonprofit management abilities by visiting NPOs and social enterprises overseas. A team of the instructor and 16 students across different departments traveled to Singapore, a country with excellent social innovation projects and well-developed social enterprises, to visit different types of organizations focusing on different issues, such as vulnerable groups, youth development, food waste and environmental sustainability.

Dignity Kitchen is a long-standing social enterprise in Singapore; its founder Koh Seng Choon has devoted himself to increasing the employability of people with disabilities by training them to become skilled hawkers. During the visit, the team assisted Dignity Kitchen staff in serving the elderly during lunchtime by chatting and singing with them. In this way, the team understood the functions of Dignity Kitchen, which gives employment to people with disabilities and satisfies the need for social interaction of the elderly. This was a valuable experience for the students. Another social enterprise that significantly impressed the team was Edible Garden City (EGC). Thanks to the presentation of the EGC host, the team understood the food crisis Singapore is facing and how EGC cooperated with the government to transform prison into an urban farm, applied several eco-friendly farming techniques, and made the crops available to consume right after harvesting. EGC has made this a sustainable business model by providing food to satisfy the needs of local residents.

Besides NPOs and social enterprises, NSYSU students also visited the Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy (ACSEP), National University of Singapore. Assistant professor Chin-Chang Tsai of the Institute of Public Affairs Management, doctoral student Min-Yu Chen and three other students shared their research and engaged in lively interaction. Some students even gave enthusiastic feedback in English to share a deeper understanding of social innovation and third sector practices in Singapore. Student of the Institute of Public Affairs Management Wu-Mi Chang admitted the great value of this visit, which particularly let her earn further knowledge of social enterprises and social innovation. Student of English GHRM Master Program Ying-Hsuan Chen said that all six organizations visited varied in specific fields, but all of them revolve around social innovation. While social innovation may not be a completely new idea, it might deal with the same matter from different perspectives or integrate the existing ideas into a new combination.

Professor Tsai said that non-profit organizations and social enterprises are part of the construction process of social innovation and local praxis. Thus, on-spot visits to organizations in different countries are of great help to the students. In the future, the Institute of Public Affairs Management will continue to organize international exchange courses for students to gain global perspective and professional knowledge and abilities to apply in the future when taking local actions.

(Edited by Public Affairs Division)
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