Student Hanseatic League
Start date: Sep 1, 2015,
End date: Aug 31, 2017
The basic idea is that students learn about and experience the Baltic Sea area as a market for and supplier of products. They form an international student company which gets together to develop ideas for products which could actually be produced and sold. However, the actual production and selling is not the ultimate target of the project, but will be encouraged if the students themselves see a way of putting it to action. By using this entrepreneurial approach, students work independently, cross-curricular, problem-solving and integrated. This helps students become assessment-capable individuals who are self-confident enough in an international environment to launch their own business if they happen to have a business idea.
In fact, our partner states were linked by international markets over several centuries in the old Hanseatic League. Merchants (originally from Germany) sailed around the Baltic Sea to buy and sell products and services. They sourced products from places where they were available and sold them where there was a demand. Also, they traded in services. In order to visualize the concept of international student companies along with all the necessary theoretical background, we would like to use the example of the Hanseatic League. This image will help the students to identify with the companies and also with the requirements of entrepreneurial thinking. Because that is what the merchants in the Hanseatic League did: they were very skilled entrepreneurs who analysed the suppliers and markets and came up with innovative concepts.
The project will be focussed on student companies which meet once a year with the aim of developing a tangible product in 2015 (inspired by or made of ingredients found in the different partner states) or service product in 2016 which might in fact eventually be produced and sold. They are to think of and agree on ideas, make a prototype of the product, calculate production costs and develop a marketing campaign. The students work in internationally mixed groups and there will be three companies with a slightly different focus each. At the end of the international meeting the students decide whether they want to go ahead with the production. Self-assessment sheets tailored to the intended learning process will be filled in by the students prior to and after the meeting to monitor their progress.
In the first year of the cooperation, the student company will be asked to work with tangible goods. In order to illustrate the connection of this company to the old Hanseatic League students are asked to work with materials which were traded at the time of the Hanseatic League and use them as a basis for a modern product (e.g. wool, timber, wax, cloth). In the second year the students will be asked to work with intangible goods, because the old merchants traded in them as well. The task will be to develop a service which has teenagers as a targeted market or the providers of services (e.g. tutoring, babysitting, dog sitting, party service).
Entrepreneurship being a part of the national curriculum in most of our countries, our project will tie in perfectly with these requirements. In other countries student companies exist, but there is no connection to the curriculum. Yet, through European integration it is obvious that international marketing and sourcing will increase and thus it makes a lot of sense for our students to profit from the partner countries' experience and know-how. At the same time the teachers gain valuable knowledge which they can pass on to their colleagues at home.
We also want to include success stories from the students' environment, so the students who work in the company are asked to find a mentor from an existing (student) company. If possible, an excursion to a successful company in the vicinity of the conference center is set up to give the students some first-hand input from successful entrepreneurs.
In order to further implement entrepreneurial thinking we intend to ask the students to do research on markets and fairs which happen all year round (Christmas markets, weekly markets, Viking Days, Medieval markets) and local service companies. There students can for example analyse shopping behaviour or find out how such markets or companies are run. This will help them to place their own product on the market.
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