This year, the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College welcomed 11 new faculty members into the Lerner community. Stephanie Raible is no stranger to UD and comes to Lerner from the department of human development and family sciences. She is an assistant professor of social innovation and entrepreneurship. Raible spoke with Lerner about her passion for entrepreneurship, as well as why she chose to come to the University of Delaware.
Lerner: What is your professional and academic background?
Raible: I have been working in higher education in one form or another since being an undergraduate at the University of Delaware myself! Around the same time, I was holding leadership roles within the European Commission-funded Erasmus Mundus association: one helped spark my own startup, and the other had me teaching and mentoring early-stage and aspiring entrepreneurs.
I started teaching the topic on a one-semester coverage role, and that invitation nine years ago led to another semester, another year and, eventually, my full-time work since 2015. I was doing all of this while completing my second master’s degree and my doctorate. I came to UD at the tail end of my doctoral program with a joint appointment between the department of human development and family sciences (HDFS) in Fall 2018 and I had the opportunity to join the Lerner faculty this Fall 2021.
I have had the wonderful opportunity to represent the social entrepreneurship space within several national organizations, including the Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA) and the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE). It’s been a wonderful and exciting past decade learning, teaching, advocating for and building capacity in social entrepreneurship!
Lerner: What is your research focus?
Raible: I am currently looking at two things: entrepreneurial identity and entrepreneurship education. On the former, I am working on a series of articles related to how entrepreneurs see themselves as entrepreneurs relative to other factors (e.g., entrepreneurial stereotypes, traits, etc.). On the entrepreneurship education end, I have been working on drafting a few materials that will be coming out in the coming years, including a textbook coming out in January (https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/usd/social-entrepreneurship-9781788974202.html) and three case studies that can be used in the classroom.
Lerner: What inspired you to work in your field, research or subject area?
Raible: Well, firstly, I think social entrepreneurship is the future! Gen-Z is very interested in social issues and having an impact on the world, and I am happy to help teach them about an area that resonates so closely with them!
With the research space of entrepreneurial identity, it’s my mission to diversify the entrepreneurship landscape, including different types of diversity: gender identity, racial, ethnic, cognitive, socioeconomic, age, etc. By understanding what challenges entrepreneurs experience with their own identity formation, we can understand what they see as personal barriers to being in the area.
Lerner: What is it about UD that made you want to work, teach or research here?
Raible: My journey with UD started with an old college and university book my dad bought my brother when he was a teenager. I borrowed the book and looked up two majors of interest when I was in eighth grade. The University of Delaware was one of the options and became my top choice, so I was an aspiring Blue Hen even before visiting campus! However, when you do step foot on campus though, it’s evident that there’s a whole other level of energy that’s here. We’re beaming with talent and ample opportunity, and having the opportunity to teach another generation of Blue Hens is an honor!
Lerner: What course are you most excited to teach at Lerner?
Raible: This is a hard question to answer. ENTR420/620 Social Entrepreneurship is always a popular choice with students and even though I love teaching that course, if I am picking favorites, my favorite is ENTR464/664 Social Entrepreneurship Practicum. Usually, that course attracts students who are really interested and passionate about social entrepreneurship, so their contributions to class discussions are extremely interesting and insightful! Also, we dig deep into some of the challenges of social enterprise, which yields intense and thought-provoking discussions!
Lerner: What is something unique about you that may surprise your peers and students?
Raible: I thrift shop. This December will mark two years without buying any new clothing, accessories or shoes. I was an avid thrift shopper back in high school and college, and I wanted to get back to my roots. There are so many unique items that you can find, and with so many online sellers now, you easily can find anything you are looking for.