Entrepreneurship Education in the US: a new strategy

by Judith Cone,
Vice President, Entrepreneurship, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Curriculum has to be made deeper, sounder, and more consistent across the board. So instead of supporting “one-off” curriculum projects at various institutions, we are now focused on piloting and replicating true world-class coursework. For instance, we will be partnering with schools to develop and disseminate an entire new learning sequence for students. To fill a key gap in the curriculum, we are looking at refining and disseminating a very promising new approach to teaching opportunity recognition. And to spread entrepreneurship across the campus, we will help propagate some of the best new curriculum developed at the Kauffman Campuses.

Faculty development is a crucial, related issue. Many schools do not have enough qualified faculty to meet the growing student demand. We are thus intensifying efforts to recruit faculty from all disciplines-be it business, the social sciences, or any other discipline-and prepare them to teach and do research in entrepreneurship.

One way we will do this is by seeding and supporting networks of like-minded faculty across the United States. There are few such mechanisms at present, and they are needed so that entrepreneurship educators can learn from one another and work together to raise the bar for all. We are also looking at novel ideas. Faculty of exceptional promise, for instance, might soon be competing for Kauffman-sponsored sabbaticals: a new kind that would give them time off to study entrepreneurship, develop a course, or lay plans for an academic journal-plus follow-up support to then implement and disseminate what they have learned and done.

As curriculum and faculty grow stronger, we need to assure that entrepreneurship gains full academic status in higher education. All efforts require enlisting partners and champions. Kauffman is working at this from every angle, not only among faculty, but with university presidents and chancellors. We are also working “from the outside in” with successful entrepreneurs and other champions in the private sector. Many have been very generous thus far, in matters such as creating endowed chairs and professorships in entrepreneurial studies. The key is to lift this groundswell to a new level: we have been working with others, for instance, to form a national panel on entrepreneurship education that might, among other things, take the lead on defining the curriculum for entrepreneurship in higher education.

Our ultimate goal is to see that any young person who enters college, in any field of study, has the chance for a great education in entrepreneurship. Of course not everyone will aspire to be an entrepreneur. But we believe that everyone should at least be acquainted with the role entrepreneurship plays in the economy, aware of the possibility of entrepreneurship as a choice at some point in their careers, and know how to engage with the process. The world in our time-the world these young people will go into-is never static; it is always being re-invented.

And that is precisely what entrepreneurship is about. It is a means of re-inventing the world.

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