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iSchool at Syracuse hosts conference to examine the role of entrepreneurship in higher education and libraries

An entrepreneurial mind sees a problem as an opportunity to innovate a better solution. “This is the time—when the economy is shaking—to say, ‘Oh, there’s a new way to do this,’” said William Scott Green, director of the Kauffman foundation’s Campus Initiative and senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education at the University of Miami. “The time for new ideas is now.”

Green’s keynote address on December 12 opened the Center for Digital Literacy’s two-day Institute for Digital Empowerment: Insights Incite Innovation conference at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool). His presentation, “The Urgency of Entrepreneurship,” focused on the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education. “We have a moral and educational necessity to teach our students not only to find jobs, but to make them,” Green said.

Green described how entrepreneurship first entered the lexicon of higher education through business schools. He then emphasized how vital it was that the concepts of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking enter all disciplines’ curricula. “To build America’s future, entrepreneurship should become the focus of American higher education,” he said.

Green also stressed that academia cannot be afraid of the idea of the market, as that is the “theater in which free society expresses itself,” he said. Business is part of society and must reflect society’s values, but entrepreneurship transcends business. It cannot be restricted to remain there, he said. Rather, entrepreneurship and innovation can operate in any academic discipline and in any human endeavor.

Green said entrepreneurship leads to social progress and is a social responsibility. He cited the accomplishments of Bill Gates and the impact that Microsoft has had on human development around the globe. Gates’ efforts resulted in change bigger than what any government could have accomplished, Green said.

He went on to say that entrepreneurship is a form of freedom. “In universities, when we teach about entrepreneurship, we’re teaching students what it means to be free and how to be free,” he said. “Its relevance is clear. Entrepreneurship implements innovation and innovation is the pinnacle of American learning.” Universities must value the discovery of new life possibilities for their students, he said.

Green offered examples from the University of Miami of how to infuse curricula with innovation and described the creation of its Launch Pad, an interdisciplinary entrepreneurship resource center for students housed within the university’s career center.

“Our most important renewable natural resource is human intellect,” Green said. “We need people to implement new ideas.”

Day one of the conference also featured: Don Kelly of Intellectual Asset Management Associates and co-founder of United Inventors Association; Meredith Professor Ruth V. Small, conference organizer, director of the Center for Digital Literacy, and director of the School of Information Studies school media program; Pam Berger, library consultant and editor of Information Searcher; Joy Wilkins, director of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute; Mark Costa, Ph.D. student in the iSchool; Michael Haynie, assistant professor in entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises at SU Whitman School of Management; and Phyllis Self, dean of libraries at Western Illinois University.

The conference continued December 13 with a keynote by Norm Goldstein, founder and CEO of By Kids For Kids, followed by a series of panel discussions.

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