The many hats of system actors
Submitted by Makaela Kingsley

In our social entrepreneurship courses and co-curricular programs at Wesleyan University, we emphasize the diverse roles of effective changemakers. We caution against ‘heropreneurship’ or ‘wantrepreneurship’ and encourage students to study systems and root causes, identify gaps and leverage points, and reflect on their own leadership capacities before determining the most strategic paths to impact. Some will ultimately go on to create projects and ventures of their own, while others will find effective ways of creating social change as intrapreneurs, connectors, activists, community organizers, public officials, and more.

I created these hats to use as a prop in my classes. I introduce them early in the semester, when talking generally about the variety of changemaker roles. Then, I bring them out periodically as a reminder for students who have developed their own theory of change and are ready to test their hypotheses about the best ways to create impact. In some cases, they have selected one role – or hat! – for themselves, but with the advice of their classmates and mentors, they realize that another role would in fact be more effective.

Although students often giggle when I pull out my stack of hats, they serve as an effective visual reminder that anyone can be a social entrepreneur.