| 8 minute read

Flipping the script: From Entrepreneurship Educators to impactful educators

Tasha Day
A university professor smiling while her students applaud at the end of her presentation

This article is the second in a series about the semantics of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education. The first article, Demystifying entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education explores the development of the concept of entrepreneurship over time, contradictions in its meaning and discusses future directions. This article draws on conversations and insights from the Educators for Impact project to suggest a new framing for entrepreneurship education.

Entrepreneurship Education (EE)

Entrepreneurship or Entrepreneurial Education (EE) emerges as a tool to address this issue. The integration of EE into university curricula is thought to endow students with the essential skills and mindset needed to identify and act upon opportunities and tackle societal challenges of today and tomorrow, even in the face of increasing uncertainty. By instilling an entrepreneurial mindset through education, we can foster more change makers to aspire to create social change and work for the greater good by mobilising knowledge, people and various resources. Fostering the entrepreneurial capabilities of both people and organisations in Europe has now been a fundamental policy goal of the European Union and its Member States since 2006[1].

Resistance to entrepreneurship education

However, currently EE is a lot more prevalent in business disciplines. This benefits only a fraction of students in our education institutions. If our goal is to transform the entirely of the future workforce and cultivate more individuals capable of driving change, it is crucial for other disciplines to also incorporate EE practices in their study programmes[2]. In our article Demystifying entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education, we explored how colloquial understandings of the word “entrepreneurship”, as focussed on business creation and profit, created suspicion among educators and posed a barrier to the uptake of EE across non-business disciplines.

In addition to this, the Educators for Impact Training Investigation Report identified that a large challenge in the diffusion of entrepreneurial education is the resistance by faculty to changing their course, and their teaching methods[3]. Anything that can lower this resistance, therefore, can be considered an important enabling factor.

Redefining & re-naming entrepreneurship education

The Educators for Impact project aimed to spot the gaps of provision in our current education system and support the integration of EE concepts across disciplines. This integration aims at supporting the cultivation of an entrepreneurial mindset as a means to enhance the impact of education, address societal challenges, and introduce novelty into the education sector. Educators should be able to design and facilitate learning experiences that empower students to apply their theoretical knowledge to real-world contexts, collaborate effective, and leverage technology for creating value and impact[4]. Additionally, educators should be capable of nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset and offering opportunities for students to cultivate a global perspective.

The adoption of a wider conception EE and its integration across disciplines requires a change of direction[5]. Lackéus proposes that a fresh definitional approach could assist in liberating entrepreneurial education from its precarious situation marked by suspicion on the one hand, and irrelevance on the other[6]. There currently exists no widely recognised term to indicate this kind of education that transcends traditional types of entrepreneurship education. In response to this lacune, Lackéus proposes ‘’Value Creation Education’’, a process of ‘’learning-through-creating-value-for-others’’. Away from purely commercial connotations, value creation education primarily focuses on prosocial motives centred on creativity, meaningful collaboration with others and a sense of purpose[7].

Emerging literature on value creation education demonstrates that it not only fosters the development of entrepreneurial competencies but also contributes significantly to the development of curricular subject related knowledge, making it ideal to integrate across disciplines. Unlike, traditional entrepreneurship education, value creation education does not centre around economic value to provide student motivation, but rather it derives its motivation from students passions for making a tangible difference to others and society. The heightened engagement seen in value creation education prompts students to delve more deeply into their learning, resulting in transformative emotional experiences that reshape their perspective on the world.

Education for impact, as identified as a type of education by the Educators for Impact project, encompasses a dynamic range of pedagogies aimed at fostering transformative learning experiences. This includes project-based learning, allowing students to engage actively in real-world challenges, and working collaboratively in multidisciplinary teams. This real-world exposure offers students the opportunity to apply their subject-based knowledge in practical contexts.

By flipping our identity to focus on the end product of Entrepreneurial Education, we aimed to foster inclusivity and emphasise the broader societal contributions that the development of entrepreneurial mindsets can bring beyond traditional business contexts.

In the project, we deliberately steered away from the conception of entrepreneurship as business creation, seeking a more expansive definition of entrepreneurship education. By adopting the name Educators for Impact, our intention was to avoid any semantic confusion surrounding entrepreneurship, recognising that it might deter academics, as well as women and those who do not identify with colloquial notions of entrepreneurship, from engaging with our project. Our approach positioned entrepreneurship education as the means, with impact and value creation emerging as the ultimate goal. By flipping our identity to focus on the end product of EE, we aimed to foster inclusivity and emphasise the broader societal contributions that the development of entrepreneurial mindsets can bring beyond traditional business contexts.

Diffusing Entrepreneurship Education

For educators without a business background, it might be understandable to think, “My discipline has no connection to business formation—it’s neither my responsibility nor expertise!” However, entrepreneurial education is not solely about creating businesses; rather, it is an educational approach aimed at developing skills and mindsets to inspire students to think in entirely new ways. By changing the framing of entrepreneurial education to Value Creation Education or Education for Impact, we can break through stigmas associated with entrepreneurship and distribute this impact across the entirety of our student body – creating competent and capable citizens for the future.

The Impactful Educator Awards

Do you work to embed entrepreneurial education across disciplines, use engaging pedagogies and tools or collaborate with external stakeholders to enhance the impact of your teaching? Or do you have a colleague or teacher who has been working hard to use innovative methods to enhance the impact of their teaching? 

The Impactful Educator Awards aims to recognise university educators who are supporting the cultivation of an entrepreneurial mindset as a means to enhance the impact of education, address societal challenges, and introduce novelty into the education sector.  

There are 3 award categories for Impactful Educators to apply to:

  1. Innovative Mindset Master Award
  2. Empowering Learning Journey Hero Award
  3. Impactful Partnerships Builder Award

Visit the Educators for Impact award page to find out more and apply or nominate!

References

[1] Day, T. (2023) Demystifying entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education. UIIN. Available: https://www.uiin.org/2023/11/02/demystifying-entrepreneurship-and-entrepreneurship-education/

[2] Çelik, E. (2022b) Entrepreneurship Education: Nurturing the Changemakers of the Future. Educators for Impact. Newsletter Issue 1. Available: https://educatorsforimpact.eu/nurturing-changemakers/.

[3] Fedorova, A., Hayward, C., Çelik, E., McCallum, E., Israel, H., Edwards, J., Toschi, L., Collins, M.H., Day, T., Scholten, V. (2022) The Educators for Impact Training Investigation Report. Educators for Impact. Available: https://educatorsforimpact.eu/entrepreneurial-training-investigation-report/

[4] Educators for Impact (2023) How can educators support their students to create value beyond the classroom?. Issue 2. Available: https://educatorsforimpact.eu/714-2/.

[5] Fedorova, A. (2022) Insights from our Research. Educators for Impact. Newsletter Issue 2. Available: https://educatorsforimpact.eu/insights-from-our-research/

[6] Lackéus, M. (2017). Can entrepreneurial education escape being caught between marginal (‘the Devil’) and irrelevant (‘the Deep Blue Sea’) practices. In ECSB Entrepreneurship Education Conference (pp. 10-12).

[7] Lackéus, M. & Sävetun, C. (2016) Entreprenöriell utbildning som värdeskapande lärande-en tredje väg. En effektstudie av värdeskapande lärande på uppdrag av Skolverket. Gothenburg: Chalmers University of Technology.

Ready for more?

If you enjoyed this article, check our podcast episode, Fostering the entrepreneurial mindset and student entrepreneurship in higher education, where we explore the mission of University of Galway’s IdeasLab to help students accelerate into the startup ecosystem and develop an entrepreneurial mindset.

You can also read our article Bridging the gap: Reimagining higher education for 21st century skills, where we dissect one of the panel discussions at the 2023 UIIN Conference about whether higher education is currently fit for purpose, and how to equip individuals with the necessary skills to meet the demands of the 21st century.


Tasha Day (author) is a Project officer at UIIN, where she undertakes research activities and creates content on a wide variety of topics including entrepreneurship education, sustainability and research valorisation.

Go to overview