THE BLOG
05/28/2013 03:56 pm ET Updated Jul 28, 2013

What If We Embraced Edupreneurship as a Transformative Force?

Usually when I speak or write about edupreneurship to others, I'm immediately corrected: you mean entrepreneurship. Then begins the long explanation of what I mean by edupreneurship. While I'm still working on a single definition -- and may never settle on one -- these continual conversations have helped me better understand the power and potential of edupreneurship. There is a growing number of people who would like to infuse education with elements of entrepreneurship, but they typically view "edupreneurship" purely as bringing in elements of entrepreneurship into the realm of education; I see it more of a multi-directional movement. What if business leaders had as much to learn from students as students had to learn from them? What if educators took on the responsibility of creating a more environmentally sustainable and socially impactful society by using their classrooms to unleash the inner-entrepreneur within their students. What if, by connecting the unique perspective of the entrepreneur with the ubiquitous platform of education, we could create a better world, from the individual on up?

Definitions of education are plentiful, but I prefer "the process of preparation." Definitions for entrepreneurship are equally profuse. The one I like the best is from The Entrepreneurial Imperative author, Carl J. Schramm: "Entrepreneurship is the process in which one or more people undertake economic risk to create a new organization that will exploit a new technology or innovative process that generates value to others." Regardless of one's definition of what it means to be an entrepreneur, the fundamental attitude of embracing and exploiting change in order to provide a solution for a clearly identified problem lies at the heart of it. There's also an inherent process, not unlike approaches to learning and the art of educating. What if we could merge these processes and applications? What if edupreneurship were embraced by educators and employers?

At their core, entrepreneurs are problem solvers; students are given problems to solve. Educators help manage learners navigate through these problems toward suitable solutions. What if the previously considered disparate fields of entrepreneurship and education were actually a perfect pair? Most importantly, though, what if edupreneurship is the key to a more productive and sustainable future? What if we could teach students and educators to think like entrepreneurs and teach workers and administrators to attack their work with the spirit of a student?

What If...? is my first experience with edupreneurship in action, but it hasn't taken me long to spot others and the growing potential for even more. Over the summer, I'll share and explore various examples of edupreneurship in action. I've been fortunate to work with several remarkable students who are shaking education and entrepreneurship together with a vigor that will radically impact our world. From Sahadev Rai's Clinton Global Initiative University backed, Yang Ward Foundation that sets out to empower women in Nepal by educating them how to produce and profit from cash crops to bring about more sustainable lives, to Joseph Munyabanza's CORBUWAS organization that is working to educate the people of central Africa, needs and opportunities abound. Both students are tapping into the process of entrepreneurship to educate others and using education to help others live more fulfilling, self-sustaining lives.

Since what edupreneurship is is (and will likely always be) in beta, I'd love to hear your thoughts. In addition to commenting below, Tweet your thoughts at #Edupreneurship.

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