As the importance of entrepreneurial education is gaining increasing recognition across disciplines, educators from non-business programmes are likely looking for inspiration about how to adopt this method into their teaching practices.
Here we provide, therefore, some research-based ideas on how to utilise entrepreneurship education in other disciplines:
- Project-based learning
In project-based learning (PBL), students learn through projects centred around a challenge/problem and work on these projects as a group. Through project-based learning, students can acquire project management and teamworking skills as well as develop competencies such as creativity, ability to take initiative, and communication effectively (Soares et al., 2013). Many researchers might think, for example, ‘’If am a calculus professor, how are these methods relevant to my course?’’. To this question, we can invoke the example of the KEEN project in the U.S. whose participant universities transformed 70% of their engineering curriculum, including courses like calculus, history and other fundamental science courses to include entrepreneurial elements.
- Working in multidisciplinary teams.
While project-based learning with a group of students is a great way to acquire entrepreneurial skills and competences, working in multidisciplinary teams can be even more effective. Such experiences provide students with valuable new perspectives and exposure to different team dynamics, as well as an opportunity to develop respect and understanding.
- Active learning
An active learning approach is in an inseparable part of deploying entrepreneurial education in any discipline. Rather than traditional didactic learning, students need to be active in the learning process and gain experience through group workshops, prototyping sessions, hackathons, field trips to innovative companies, capstone projects, internships, and immersion experiences.
- Real world exposure
Bringing students into contact with their real-world environment is a key element of entrepreneurial education. This can be done through company projects (e.g., Soares et al., 2013), case studies (e.g., Jones & Jones, 2014) or inviting entrepreneurs as guest speakers (e.g., Radharamanan & Juang, 2012). In addition, exposing students to role models such as alumni, entrepreneurial students, and existing entrepreneurs allows them to engage in a critical self-reflection concerning the entrepreneurial learning process on an individual- and team level.
The abovementioned suggestions are pedagogical approaches and tools that can be adopted by any educators regardless of their discipline. However, it is also possible to create new courses in non-business faculty, so that entrepreneurial education fit into the existing curriculum.
- Entrepreneurship course/module into the curriculum
One way of integrating entrepreneurial education into non-business disciplines is offering a course or module that introduces students to the concept of entrepreneurship as part of the core programme, allowing them to gain an entrepreneurial mindset and build relevant competencies as part of their degree. These types of course introduce the concept entrepreneurship within a non-business context and allow students to work in a group setting to solving a problem or develop a business idea. This perhaps the easiest way to adopt entrepreneurial education into non-business disciplines; it only requires the development of a single module and the commitment of the department to integrate entrepreneurship as a core part of the programme.
- Courses as cross-disciplinary projects.
Another example from the field is developing a course with entrepreneurial purpose by employing project-based learning and multidisciplinary working. For example, in the School of Engineering of University of Minho, in Portugal, a course called the ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship Integrated Project (IEIP)’ is offered. Here students from different engineering programs (Mechanical, Industrial Electronics and Computers, Polymer, Industrial Management) form teams and compete against each other in developing or improving commercial products manufactured by actual industries (Soares et al., 2013). Either as part of curriculum or extra-curriculum, a smaller scale course can also achieve bringing diverse backgrounds together.
- Entrepreneurship specialisation during the degree study
Whilst the above examples represent single course offerings with entrepreneurial content and pedagogies, a step further approach to integrating entrepreneurial education across faculties is by developing structured entrepreneurship programmes that students can engage with and complete throughout their study. For example, at Mercer University of School of Engineering, in Georgia, they offer an Entrepreneurship Certificate Programme open to all engineering students which they complete throughout their bachelor’s degree (Radharamanan and Juang, 2012). The programme comprises of a total of five courses in marketing, management, entrepreneurship, innovation and design. During the certificate programme, students work within cross-disciplinary entrepreneurial design projects, organise events, and raise funds to participate and present technical papers on their design and business plans.
All of the above examples are based on real world initiatives from across the globe and serve as a source of inspiration for the further implementation of entrepreneurial education. But, the sky is the limit. Entrepreneurial education is about enhancing the impact of students; both in terms of impact on themselves and impact on the society that they live in. As educators, it is up to us to nurture and future proof young talent, and this is dependent on our ability to transform our traditional disciplined-based education to education for impact.
Authored by Elif Çelik (TU Delft)