The Third Way is a project devised to improve communication and knowledge sharing between the vocational andhigher education sector and social enterprises (The so-called Third Sector). At the heart of the project proposal is thedevelopment of a new curriculum pathway for studentsfrom different educational domains around vocational andbusiness subjects wishing to become social entrepreneursand/ or create social enterprises. The curriculum devised willbe available in digital form such as a Massive Open OnlineCourse (MOOC) or through Open and Distance Learning(ODL) via a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as well asdelivered as innovative Face-to-face programmes of study.The project proposal supports the development of new curricular pathways through a process of knowledge sharing andcommunication. It shall be embedded into existing educationprogrammes to ensure an effective outreach. It supports thesocial aims and objectives of the Third Sector and flexibilityand modularity is intended to ensure maximum uptake andenrolment.

The project proposal was devised during a workshop at theBusinet conference in Vilamoura, Portugal in November2018. It has the broad aim of narrowing the divide in understanding between traditional business curricula in Vocational and Higher Education and the growing sector of socialenterprises. While across Europe more and more youngpeople are turning to social enterprises, the Third Sector, thispartnership is keen to recognise this and support and informtheir choices and lead them towards this ‘Third Way’ of doingbusiness.

The Third Way (T3W) is a project that requires HEIs withfocus on vocational education and business development, towork with the economic sector in the form of European social enterprises to develop a curriculum for business undergraduates in partnership with the Third Sector. The project hasthe primary aim to create innovative and accessible learningprogrammes that support understanding and awareness ofsocial enterprise.

This project does not just target vocational and undergraduate students and graduates but also those lecturers thatare delivering business related training programmes in higher education institutions. The university partners will workwith social enterprises and aspiring social entrepreneurs toproduce a curriculum model and MOOC that offers information about social enterprise, for social enterprise andprovides learning through social enterprise. As well as the MOOC, the devised curriculum will stand alone as a ‘Face toFace’ programme of study delivered via a series of interactiveworkshops. This project represents a serious attempt to ensure social enterprise becomes an integrated component ofthe higher education business curriculum. It will also supportthe social enterprise sector to recruit from a pool of graduates and trainees with the required sector-specific skills andknowledge.

An essential outcome of the project proposed is knowledge sharing and the potential for access to greater mobility across the EU alongside the formal recognition of theproposed lifelong learning, which again this project will bringabout. New initiatives in the business curriculum will supportmodels for social businesses and will be generated throughthis proposed initiative. New strategies for successful andinnovative delivery will be developed and shared across theproject teams. The project is committed to the Objectivesand Priorities of the 2019 Call such as (1) social inclusion ineducation and training and (2) open education and innovative practices in a digital era. The conceptualization ofthe project owes much to the social inclusion dimension ofLeuven and Louvain-la-Neuve communiqué (2009) and theBucharest communiqué of 2012 with its emphasis on providing higher education for all, enhancing employability andstrengthened mobility.

The result of the project is an integrated pan-European approach to the educational support for social business in all ofits forms. This is supported by the following five Objectives:

1 To identify and analyse the detailed requirements ofrelated stakeholders across Europe to identify theirspecific needs;

2 To establish a platform for communication, co-operation, training and resources;

3 To develop a prototype social enterprise curriculumfor business support that is available both on-line (as aMOOC) and as a face-to-face activity.

4 To establish (and further grow) European (global) networks of social entrepreneurs;.

5 To provide internships/ work experiences across a range of European social enterprises.