About us

The Background

The Third Way is a project that sought to develop tools and a curriculum to improve communication and knowledge sharing between the vocational and higher education sector and social enterprises (The so-called Third Sector).

The need for the project came from discussions held during a workshop at the Businet conference in Vilamoura, Portugal in November 2018. The discussions identified the need to narrow the divide in understanding between traditional business curricula in Vocational and Higher Education and the growing sector of social enterprises. While across Europe more and more young people are turning to social enterprises, the Third Sector, this partnership is keen to recognise this and support and inform their choices and lead them towards this ‘Third Way’ of doing business. This required HEIs with focus on (vocational) education and business development, to work with the economic sector in the form of European social enterprises to develop a curriculum for business.

The Partners

10 organisations from 9 countries came together, under the leadership of Technical University of Dresden, to meet the aims and objectives of the project. The partner institutes were all passionate about providing the tools that the current workforce need to develop their skills and up-skill the sector.

The partnership was composed in such a way as to combine a group of partners from different European regions with different backgrounds, but with corresponding heterogeneous competencies.

A full list of partners can be seen by clicking here.

The project

The core of the project proposal was the development of a new curriculum pathway for students from different educational domains around vocational and business subjects wishing to become social entrepreneurs and/ or create social enterprises.

The curriculum has been made available in digital form through the online learning courses on this website, as well as being delivered as innovative Face-to-face programmes of study.

The original project proposal supported the development of new curricular pathways through a process of knowledge sharing and communication to be embedded into existing education programmes to ensure an effective outreach. It supported the social aims and objectives of the Third Sector and flexibility and modularity to ensure maximum uptake and enrolment.

The Aims and Objectives

The project had the primary aim of creating innovative and accessible learning programmes that support understanding and awareness of social enterprises. It also aimed to further an integrated pan-European approach to the educational support for social business in all of its forms. This was backed by the following five objectives:
1.)To identify and analyse the detailed requirements of related stakeholders across Europe to identify their specific needs
2.)To establish a platform for communication, co-operation, training and resources
3.)To develop a prototype social enterprise curriculum for business support that is available both online (as a MOOC) 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

To Sum Up

This project did not just target vocational and undergraduate students and graduates but also those lecturers that are delivering business related training programmes in higher education institutions.

The university partners worked with social enterprises and aspiring social entrepreneurs to produce a curriculum model and MOOC that offers information about social enterprise, for social enterprise and provides learning through social enterprise.

As well as the online learning platform (MOOC), the devised curriculum stands alone as a ‘Face to Face’ programme of study which can be delivered via a series of interactive workshops. This project represented a serious attempt to ensure social enterprise becomes an integrated component of the higher education business curriculum.

It also supports the social enterprise sector to recruit from a pool of graduates and trainees with the required sector-specific skills and knowledge. The emphasis was on providing higher education for all, enhancing employability and strengthened mobility.

You can download the summary to the The Third Way Project and its background, aims and uses as a PDF file in English, German, Czech and Dutch below.

English Version

German Version

Czech Version

Dutch Version

We also have a step-by-step instruction on how to register an account, how to use the MOOCs and how to navigate the courses: