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Why Being a Social 'Edupreneur' is the Way to Go in Business Education Today

By 3p Contributor


Business education has come under fire from different angles in recent years, leading some to even question whether B-Schools should not completely be overhauled. The criticism comprises a wide scale of arguments. There is condemnation about the sheer structure of many B-Schools’ operations, with deans placing excessive focus on acquiring major funds for the school at any expense, faculty being more concerned about maintaining their scholarly status than to properly facilitate their courses, and students treating their bachelor's degree or MBA as a negotiation tool, expecting top-grades for their tuition dollars. There is also major criticism about the training of business students into future executives who solely focus on the bottom-line (“homo economicus”), even if it requires immoral strategies. American B-Schools, in particular, are often accused of defending, teaching, and practicing hard core capitalism without any social emphasis, a trend that has proven destructive to the collective emotional wellbeing of society.

The call for “meaning” has emerged and surged, but has yet to find massive adoption in the ways B-Schools are run and how they structure their curricula. Fortunately, there are movements that have spawned rays of hopes. Workplace spirituality, leadership styles that emphasize broad stakeholder inclusion, emotional intelligence, business ethics, diversity management, and an energetic focus on social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility, are some of the avenues that several business faculty members have cultivated in recent years.

Yet, teaching these constructive topics is one thing. Making them appealing and compelling is another. Today’s student, business or non-business, needs more than a mere textbook and a series of bank-deposit resembling lectures to remain enticed. Today’s business students, with all distractions that surround and consume them, need an active and fertile environment to absorb the topics that will drive their behavior in the future of professional performance.  

This is where the Edupreneur enters the business classroom. Edupreneurs are simply educators with an entrepreneurial mindset and approach. They can be found in all sectors of education, but are desperately needed in business schools. Why? Because they teach by example. Edupreneurs are not static educators, but remain on the move, and engage in a range of constructive outreach activities that enrich their insights and positively affect the quality they bring to the classroom. They may engage in external presentations to professional audiences, which enables them to extend their influence outside the classroom and establish useful connections. They may create or participate in constructive physical or virtual projects, inspired by a perceived need. They may write books and articles that reach practitioner audiences, or try to involve broader platforms in the teaching practice. The range of activities in which edupreneurs can engage is vast and fascinating. And, as we are now witnessing growing recognition and appreciation of social entrepreneurs – those who start ventures with a primary aim of solving social problems or instigating social change – so should we encourage the cultivation of social edupreneurs: educators who aim at positively altering the social landscape, and confront their students with the urgency to bring about responsible change in society.   

In order to achieve the greatest impact, it is important to include action-based experiences, whereby students identify projects to which they can constructively contribute, because only when they have experienced the euphoria of actually alleviating a need in society, regardless how small, will they be encouraged to do it more often.

We must convince business professors about the importance of becoming social edupreneurs, and help them understand that this approach will not infringe, but rather strengthen their scholarship, while also enlarging their impact on society and their students. In doing so, we will have taken a major step toward constructively reinventing business education, while at the same time, initiating the much-needed change in the outdated narrative about the role of business in society.  

Image credit: Woodbury University/Facebook

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