ID-E Symposium on Entrepreneurship Education

by Britta Baron

Entrepreneurship Education has been featuring high on the agenda of many universities and colleges in North America for more than a decade. It is part of a broader trend to ensure societal relevance, closer interaction with the communities in which universities operate, improved student satisfaction and a proven impact of university education on students’ career success.

The provision of entrepreneurship hubs, of funding programs to allow students to test entrepreneurial ideas and of specialized courses, mostly offered through business studies programs, have been standard elements of an entrepreneurship education agenda. Universities, however, need to rethink curricula and methods of teaching across the board to strengthen the skills, competences and attitudes that foster successful entrepreneurship.

As a broader concept entrepreneurship stands for self-reliance, resilience, curiosity, critical thinking and courage, qualities that will benefit students in their professional careers, as citizens and in their personal lives no matter whether they end up running a business on their own.

Experiential learning is key to any pedagogical approach that aims at fostering such qualities. Internships, volunteering or international programs for work, study or learning are all mechanisms that can assist students with developing entrepreneurial skills and attitudes. Such experiential learning should be closely integrated with each student’s degree program, should be carefully designed and delivered and regularly evaluated. Canada has developed some strong examples of good practice that will be referenced.