IIE Networker - Fall 2011 - (Page 18)
Entrepreneurship and Innovation in International Education and Development
By Mark Lazar
RECENTLY, THERE HAS been much discussion and debate in educa-
tion circles, particularly in international education, about entrepreneurship and innovation. Though the global interest in these topics cannot be traced to a single instance, it has clearly been accelerated by two events over the past five years. First, the awarding of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus raised awareness of the importance of microfinance to international development and poverty alleviation in developing countries. Microfinance represents a more bottom-up approach by empowering those most in need to develop new businesses and by strengthening smaller enterprises. The effect of this model is evidenced in the work of many funders, including Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 Women Initiative and the work of the MasterCard Foundation, USAID, and many others. Second, the economic crisis of 2008 created an environment in which many companies realized they will have to innovate to survive and prosper in the new global economic reality. Perhaps the most well-known effort in this area is GE’s Ecomagination campaign, which focuses on green innovations. But other major global companies such as Alcoa, Cargill, and Avery Dennison also have increasingly focused both their business activities and their educational/community initiatives on innovation themes. We are also witnessing an increased emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship on the government level. The Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, held in April 2010, was a direct result of President Obama’s Cairo speech. The U.S. Department of State has also created the Global Entrepreneurship Program, which is being led by Steven Koltai, Senior Advisor for Entrepreneurship. In this context, what is the role of international education and international educators in promoting entrepreneurship and innovation? This is not a new area for most of us in the field, as we have long known that training internationallyminded students promotes leaders and a spirit of innovation. The results and evaluations of many programs indicate as much. For example, a survey of corporate leaders completed for the Global Engineering Education Exchange (www.globale3.org), a pioneering IIE program to foster study abroad for undergraduate engineering students, found that the international education experience would give engineers the skills that they often attribute to leaders in industry. But what more can or should we be doing in this area? In an attempt to answer this question, I will frame the discussion within the parameters put forth by Steven Koltai in a presentation that he made about the Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP). In the chart on this page, he talks about how the six intersecting circles of the GEP work. Those six circles are: Identify, Train, Connect and Sustain, Fund, Enable Policy, and Celebrate. Though international education has a role in all six areas, I will
focus my remaining points on the four areas where the role is most significant: Identify, Train, Connect and Sustain, and Celebrate. Identify In the global search for talent, whether it be for key research and development positions or for admissions to academic programs, the ability to innovate is essential. Recently, many international programs have changed the ways in which they identify and select candidates with broader implications. Over the last 10 years, the U.S. Department of State has created a series of program initiatives to diversify program participation at all levels and reach leaders in a variety of professions, including scientists, entrepreneurs, and innovators. These include the Fulbright’s Lab to Market Program, which proactively searches for innovators and provides them with the tools to be successful as entrepreneurs. In the social justice sphere, the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program (Ford IFP) has broken new ground by concentrating one of the biggest foundation-funded initiatives on emerging leaders from disadvantaged sectors of the population and providing them with the educational tools to be leaders in their communities. Outreach, recruitment, and selection processes for these programs go far beyond traditional approaches, and there are many lessons to be learned from these programs and others. Another example is NYU’s new campus in Abu Dhabi. In the selection process for this program, outstanding academic skills are only part of
Partners: Corporations, NGOs, Foundations, Academia and Investors
Convenes, Catalyzes, and Coordinates
Identify Celebrate Train Connect & Sustain
Develop and Support Programs
Enable Policy Fund Connect & Sustain
The six intersecting circles of the Global Entrepreneurship Program are: Identify, Train, Connect and Sustain, Fund, Enable Policy, Celebrate. Credit: U.S. Department of State’s Global Entrepreneurship Program.
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