Thursday, December 13, 2007

Entrepreneurship Education and Spanish Community Service Learning

Today I met with Jane Alsberg from UIUC's Center for Teaching Excellence to discuss a session on entrepreneurship education that Larry Schook (Institute for Genomic Biology), Tony Mendes (Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership), and I will give at the Faculty Retreat.

Abstract of our session:
Once thought of only in terms of starting a new business, entrepreneurship is a framework that is now used in order to create sustainable programs for social change, intellectual work and cultural creativity. At its core, entrepreneurship in any context is about recognizing opportunities, gathering resources and creating something of value. When we bring this framework into our courses, we allow students to engage with the academic content in new ways. Without necessarily teaching an entire course on entrepreneurship, faculty can include activities in their current courses that connect entrepreneurial insights to their established curriculum. This concurrent session will feature speakers from diverse academic disciplines—humanities, life sciences, psychology and business—who will highlight the teaching techniques they use in order to infuse an entrepreneurial spirit into their students’ coursework. We will discuss:
• Using established teaching techniques from your own field to address entrepreneurial content (e.g., active learning exercises, multi-media content, community-based learning, team projects, senior theses, etc.)
• Adding and adapting techniques from entrepreneurship education (e.g., case studies, simulations, etc.) to your teaching repertoire.
• Being entrepreneurial ourselves, as educators, researchers and in other ways.
The audience will participate in some of the very exercises we use in our courses and will take away from the presentation specific examples that they can use in their own courses.

Jane was very encouraging, mentioning that she would be interested in the session even if she weren't the session facilitator. I was glad to hear that. I truly believe that entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship give students (and faculty!) wonderful tools to utilize in their approach to any discipline. No one would have expected a Spanish course on social entrepreneurship, yet that is exactly what I will be teaching next semester in SPAN 332, "Spanish & Entrepreneurship: Languages, Cultures & Communities."

Our focus in the session will be to not just explain how we do entrepreneurship education in our own fields, but rather to help faculty imagine how it could enhance student learning in their own fields.

And what is the connection between Spanish community service learning and entrepreneurship? In my course, students learn the theory of social entrepreneurship and through community-based learning put it into action in the community, using their Spanish skills and developing cultural knowledge.

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