Entrepreneurship Education: An opportunity to (re)turn to purposeful education

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  • Sarah Robinson
  • Wesley Shumar, Drexel University Philadelphia, United States
A deep concern about how higher education worldwide has become more narrowly focused on the economy, on qualification and credentialing brings the focus in this paper to Entrepreneurship Education (EE) as an opportunity for purposeful education. We suggest that the present climate has produced a kind of legitimacy crisis in that the only knowledge that is socially valued is knowledge that is already seen to have economic value. These arguments have already been developed in literature on the commodification of the university (Shumar 1997), the market mantra of neoliberalism on education (Blum & Ullman 2012), and the growth of the knowledge society (Hargreaves 2003). Traditionally, the pursuit of knowledge is understood to be good for the individual and in turn good for the society (Jaspers 1959). The growth of the individual might lead to new discoveries, among other things, that then turned out to be good for society and more specifically for the economy. And we know from prior history that often economic value is discovered later after the pursuit of basic knowledge. But now with the emphasis on producing “valuable knowledge” and credentials, the order has become reversed - higher education is supposed to be for the good of the economy, and in addition, the individual and society may benefit. We question whether this approach to higher education under neoliberal reform is likely to stimulate individuals. From the standpoint of the individual, pursuing qualifications for credentials is alienating and discourages engagement and creativity (Biesta 2009). And if individuals do not grow and develop then they are less likely to contribute to a creative and growing economy and society. Drawing on these arguments this paper suggests that a broader definition of EE, as it is imagined in Scandinavia, could ironically bring higher education back to a more genuine foundation of the pursuit of knowledge that helps the individual grow and also builds a strong society. We argue that this approach resonates with the 18th century notion of ‘bildung’ (or the notion of ‘dannelse’ in Scandinavia) which develops the idea of an educated individual who actualizes their potential through education. In this paper, we suggest that a particular framing of EE creates a context that promises a contemporary return to purposeful education.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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