Intellectual Entrepreneurship: An Authentic Foundation for Higher Education Reform: Our Relationship with the Traditions and Purpose of a Humanistic Education, It Appears, Are at Odds with the Career Environment Most Students Inhabit after Graduation

Article excerpt


The growing interest in transforming the academy to meet the realities of a modern world while simultaneously preserving its traditions is both palpable and tangible. As the call to transform the university grows louder, a variety of mechanisms for doing so have emerged in response. At the forefront of these is entrepreneurship education, (2) which provides an opportunity to reposition the academy as a vital and responsive part of American life by embedding change within higher education's rich liberal arts tradition.

Entrepreneurship is an intrinsic human right to change the status quo.

Institutional change is a sustained proposition; it requires more than good ideas and innovative programs. Efforts to transform academe via entrepreneurship share certain commonalities: garnering faculty support, providing visionary leadership, and developing innovative curricula certainly lead the list. However, many universities have also found that defining this term in a manner unique to their intended goals and institutional culture is critical to successful implementation and long-term sustainability, particularly given a general uneasiness with entrepreneurship defined exclusively in economic terms. The humanistic ideals that are the bedrock of higher learning, some might surmise, simply cannot be sacrificed for the expediencies of something perceived by many as antithetical to the liberal arts tradition. Our relationship with the traditions and purpose of a humanistic education, it appears, are at odds with the career environment most students inhabit after graduation.

Where are the philosophers, rhetoricians, astronomers, psychologists, mathematicians, theologians, writers, and artists in the development of these campuswide entrepreneurship programs and in the articulation of the philosophical moorings underpinning this work? As we traverse the campus, these thinkers are invisible--sequestered in ivory towers awaiting clemency from disciplinary isolation. To be sure, the norms of the academic culture and the demands of tenure elicit such behavior. Yet as educators we are responsible for our own intellectual segregation; sadly, too many of us choose safety in small numbers in lieu of engagement. As we continue to produce articles and books for the few, those outside the academy are abandoned and seldom reap the benefits of our work. For institutions that seek relevance and change through entrepreneurship, a broad intellectual and philosophical platform must be created. This platform must be inclusive, thoughtful, and diverse; it must reflect the humanistic origins of universities, contain an academic ethos, and empower those who are touched by this vision. Above all else, the foundation for these efforts must demonstrate that the greatest asset of any campus is the ability to deconstruct impediments that segregate knowledge and prevent it from being put to work.

The premise of this article is that what will distinguish successful cross-campus entrepreneurship initiatives in the long run will be based partially on how well a supporting philosophical structure can be developed to serve as an ethos for these initiatives. Sustaining efforts that bring entrepreneurial thinking to the arts and sciences, we contend, requires a solution intrinsic to and issuing from academe's best humanistic traditions--one that can inspire students and faculty to reach and exceed their goals for the benefit of themselves and society at large. We believe that defining entrepreneurship operationally (program by program from one institution to the next) and in the absence of a rigorous philosophical foundation will doom these cross-campus programs to failure precisely because they will not reflect higher education's core intellectual traditions.

What is Intellectual Entrepreneurship?

It is our contention that intellectual entrepreneurship provides an intellectually authentic philosophical foundation capable of sustaining cross-campus entrepreneurship education. …


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