Robert Ayan. Managing Partner of Cambridge Advisors, spoke about multidisciplinary entrepreneurship in higher education.

The British Council organized a one-day forum to discuss The Value of Entrepreneurship in Higher Education, featuring representatives of UK and US higher education institutions and organizations as part of the British Council Higher Education Series. The event, held at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, convened a highly distinguished audience of university deans and senior academicians who discussed how entrepreneurial education can provide clear and quantifiable benefits to students, institutions and communities. Speakers covered central topics including: multidisciplinary entrepreneurship, creating entrepreneurial curriculum, faculty and alumni mentoring, and public-private partnerships.

In the multidisciplinary entrepreneurship session, Robert Ayan, Managing Partner of Cambridge Advisors, pointed out that entrepreneurial thinking– like understanding the human condition and problem-solving– is the foundation for many disciplines, but students have been conditioned away from innovation within education systems designed to standardize, disseminate and test knowledge as the basis of student evaluation. One of several ways to reorganize the thinking around multidisciplinary entrepreneurship is to utilize crosscutting themes– like energy, water and the environment or human security – to identify solutions across academic disciplines. This reorganization of thinking is useful in helping universities to invest in creating value across campus.

Dr. Joseph Aoun, president of Northeastern University, spoke about entrepreneurship in education.

During his lunchtime address, Dr. Joseph Aoun, President of Northeastern University noted that historically, universities didn’t want to teach entrepreneurship but that the practice has become more standard in the last five years. He cited examples of “reverse innovation” coming out of emerging economies where innovation is generated at lesser cost, which offers good general lessons of applicability in difficult economic times. Dr. Aoun stressed that if administrators aren’t entrepreneurial, faculty, staff and students cannot be expected to be either. At Northeastern, entrepreneurship isn’t confined to one school or to select faculty, but rather, each school has its own center for entrepreneurship where instructors teach students that failure is part of any process and should not be feared as an outcome.

One of the most prominent themes to emerge from the event was the need for institutions to encourage and enable students, faculty and staff, and alumni to be entrepreneurial even if the end goal is not to be a career entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship education is not a passing fad that emerges when there is a global economic crisis or high-unemployment levels, rather, it should be imbedded into a university culture so that talent can be identified and nurtured to help drive economic growth.

The Higher Education Series is a two-year series of conversational conferences focused on relevant higher education themes around the UK, US and Canada. The purpose of the series is to create opportunities for increasing partnerships and collaboration between institutions in the UK and US. The series enables a trans-Atlantic dialogue of higher education issues at a senior level with a range of North American universities, organizations, and local governments.

About Cambridge Advisors (CA)

Cambridge Advisors is a global consultancy that specializes in developing integrated strategies to foster economic prosperity. As part of its comprehensive service offerings, Cambridge Advisors provides its clients with customized, highly impactful capacity building and study tours as complementary services to support client objectives.  Specialties include National and Regional Innovation Systems, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Venture Capital, Science Parks, Workforce Development & Training, Economic Development

Photos courtesy of the British Council

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