Educators' perspective: Teaching university students about the sharing economy in Tel Aviv

Educating students about the sharing economy is a worthwhile goal and at WEconomize, a sharing economy research and consulting group in Israel, we aim to do just that. Our partners are researchers and lecturers from a wide variety of disciplines: business administration, big data, behavioral economics, law, sustainability, education, psychology, public policy and design – all interested in sharing economy and complementary currencies. "WEconomize was established by three doctoral students at Tel Aviv University, aiming to improve the world through sharing" says Amit Gal, a big data and organizational studies researcher and partner of WEconomize. "We are trying to promote sharing in Israel in all means possible."

As lecturers in various Israeli universities and colleges, WEconomize partners are teaching self-designed courses centered on the sharing economy. One of these courses is for business and economics undergraduate students at Tel Aviv University, focused on strategic advisory to sharing economy platforms. In the class, four startups are advised each semester on issues such as market penetration, platform planning, user engagement, community building, and business modeling. These organizations are active in various industries, from crowdfunding and P2P retail marketplaces to P2P parking and ride sharing. Each company is accompanied by a team of 4-5 students and a strategic adviser from a leading consulting company such as Accenture, Deloitte, and Strategy&.

Another two self-designed courses, taught at the Tel-Aviv Jaffa Academic College, are centered on exploring "Sharing Cities" and "Sharing Economy." Students learn about the paradigm shifts in the public, commercial, and political spheres created by the sharing economy, especially in the urban and municipal contexts. They also learn about the opportunities, challenges, and risks the sharing economy enfolds. This knowledge is executed into research projects the students ultimately carry out.   

When the semester ends, most of the students become enthusiastic supporters of the sharing economy, showing substantially more inclination to use platforms and engage with online communities. The WEconomize group is constantly working on adding more and more courses about the sharing economy and finding new audiences and students interested in related issues such as art, design, psychology, education and finance. The effort is centered on reaching younger students who may use the academic training and eventually create sustainable, social, and economic value through sharing initiatives and platforms.