Entrepreneurship at Temple is going campus-wide—and the Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy (TUEA) is at the helm of this effort. The Academy, formed in 2015 in partnership with the President’s office, works to educate faculty on incorporating entrepreneurship into their curriculum, and runs workshops and events on campus to support students who aspire to be entrepreneurial in their careers. So far, the effects have been far-reaching. In three years, TUEA has run more than a dozen programs, reached thousands of students, and created key partnerships in schools like the Tyler School of Art, the College of Engineering, the College of Education, and the College of Liberal Arts (CLA).
Temple University faculty collaborate at a TUEA training session last fall.
“TUEA works together with faculty across campus with the ultimate mission of enabling students to make an impact and create their own success,” says Professor Alan Kerzner, who is Director of TUEA. “Our programs teach students how to follow their passion and make a living at the same time.”
One of the Academy’s most recent and impactful efforts happened over the past year in partnership with the Intellectual Heritage (IH) program, now in its fifth decade as part of the core curriculum at CLA and a key part of the University’s General Education program, meaning undergraduate students from all of Temple’s schools and colleges enroll in the course. IH courses guide students through the “great texts”—some of the most famous and influential political, social, and scientific works ever written—and ask them to apply the principles from these works to contemporary societal issues. No small feat, although an important one for sure.
But what does it have to do with entrepreneurship?
“Despite common perceptions,” says Professor Robert McNamee, Managing Director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute at Temple University and head of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship academic programs at the Fox School of Business, “entrepreneurship is not just about starting your own business or getting rich quick. In fact, entrepreneurship is aligned in many ways with what the Intellectual Heritage program is teaching, especially when it comes to doing good for society. Entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation—these can all be harnessed to create solutions to real-world problems. Solutions that can that can ultimately lead to real change.”
During the 2016-2017 school year, TUEA and CLA partnered on a program around Social Entrepreneurship that saw an overwhelmingly positive reaction from students. Knowing it was important to continue supporting this audience, Professors Kerzner and McNamee worked together with CLA leadership and Dana Dawson, Associate Director of Temple’s GenEd program, to identify new ways to reach students wanting to use entrepreneurial thinking to make the world a better place.
Intellectual Heritage II students discuss potential solutions to the problems they are studying in class.
“We knew working with the IH program would be a unique opportunity,” said Professor McNamee. “The GenEd program at Temple University reaches so many students, and we knew this partnership could be really impactful.”
The plan was to incorporate creative problem solving techniques into the Intellectual Heritage II course. Titled “The Common Good,” this course asks students to consider issues like the balance between individual liberty and the public good and how power and privilege define one’s capacity to make change. The goal? To harness the critical thinking skills the students were practicing and turn their ideas into actionable solutions that could solve the problems they were identifying.
“We learned from IH faculty that students were understanding the issues, but sometimes becoming disheartened by their enormity,” said Professor Kerzner. “They were finding it difficult to identify ways to really address problems this big, this complicated.”
That’s where entrepreneurial thinking and creative problem solving came in. Using these practices, students were taught to shift their thinking so that it was solution-focused. They took time to really understand the problem at hand, and to identify aspects of it that were addressable. Professor Kerzner guest lectured at some class sessions, and students got to work coming up with solutions. Throughout the course, students were given the opportunity to attend workshops that helped them break down problems and develop their ideas for addressing them, and each semester culminated in a pitch competition, where students presented the problems they were studying and their planned solutions.
Intellectual Heritage professor Naomi Taback saw a change in the way her students were feeling. “I saw students,” she said, “Even ones who were often quiet in class, become animated, passionate, and enthusiastic about their ideas and solutions.”
Students present their proposed solutions at the end-of-semester pitch competition.
“Many, many students at Temple, regardless of which college they are in, want to make a difference,” added CLA Dean Richard Deeg. “They want to make the world a better place, even in a small way. The collaboration between the Entrepreneurship Academy and Intellectual Heritages exposes a large number of students to practical techniques for turning their passion into action and tangible results.”
Inciting this passion in students, and helping faculty across campus to do it, too, is the heart of TUEA’s mission. With more than 6000 students enrolled in the IH program each semester, this partnership has potential to spread the entrepreneurial spirit on campus in a big way. The initial pilot program expanded from two to seventeen course sections of Intellectual Heritage II between fall 2017 and spring 2018. The program is expected to launch in more than twenty sections this coming fall.
“TUEA resources and expertise have enhanced GenEd courses by connecting classroom- based learning with action,” says Dana Dawson. Under Dana’s guidance, faculty teaching other GenEd courses have reached out to TUEA, and both professors Kerzner and McNamee see high potential for TUEA to expand their work with the GenEd program in the future.
This spring, TUEA was the recipient of the Fox School of Business IMPACT Award, which recognizes high-impact group achievements that define our community, move the school forward, and serve as a role model for others. If the success of the partnership with IH is any indication, this is just the beginning of TUEA’s cross-campus influence.