This is the second post in Wendy Torrance’s series on higher education. See the first post here.
Entrepreneurship is flourishing on campuses around the country. In classrooms and through co-curricular programs and competitions, students on diverse campuses, at universities large and small, representing disciplines across the spectrum, have the opportunity to understand the role of entrepreneurship in the economy, explore innovation, test their own ideas, and learn what they need to know to be entrepreneurs.
If you are an educator or administrator thinking about enhancing or launching entrepreneurship programs on your campus, you may find some useful advice and insights from a set of papers recently released by the Kauffman Foundation. Some of the challenges faced by your colleagues on other campuses may resonate with you, and you may find that some of the solutions they've adopted may suit the circumstances on your campus.
What are some of the challenges campuses face? Among them are creating opportunities for students on a wide spectrum – from those merely interested or curious (seeking exposure to the idea of entrepreneurship) to those serious about starting a company. On many campuses, a broad spectrum of courses are offered to address this challenge, creating a funnel that narrows to capture those students most interested in putting their knowledge into practice.
On many campuses it is a challenge to overcome stereotypes of entrepreneurship. Solutions to this have come from engaging faculty across the disciplines, encouraging different schools and departments to define entrepreneurship for themselves (often including language such as creativity, innovation, and problem solving). Another challenge involves finding meaningful ways to measure the impact of entrepreneurship programs. Engaging in thoughtful discussions about learning goals outcomes in the planning and design process can help to better assess the results of any educational program. Campuses across the country have adopted different strategies for understanding the impact of their programs.
On some of the most entrepreneurial campuses, university leaders and students have identified ways to "talk about entrepreneurship everywhere all the time" and have created a thriving culture that supports entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurial ambitions. Campuses have increased several-fold the numbers of students engaged in entrepreneurship, and have created, as a faculty member at one university put it, programs in "entrepreneurship that have shown students across the University campus there is more to a productive career than simply finding a job". Because of entrepreneurship courses taught in engineering and other subjects, students know that they can create opportunities for themselves through their entrepreneurial efforts.
What are some other ways campuses are trying to infuse entrepreneurship into the mainstream curriculum?