“Liberal arts is supposed to be about ideas, and that’s what entrepreneurship is about,” said Grinnell College economics professor Mark Montgomery. “This conference is really a celebration of saying that there are lots of cool things that have happened by innovation, by being smart and using your brain and coming up with new ideas. That is very, very consistent with the whole principle of the liberal arts.”
The Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Liberal Arts Curriculum – also known as “Schumptoberfest 2012” – is coming up on October 13-14 at Grinnell College, and Montgomery has teamed up with Robyne Hart, Director of the ACM Chicago Program, to organize and promote it.
“The conference is really about sharing ideas on how to incorporate entrepreneurship into teaching and learning,” Hart said. “What are the multitude of ways that you do this? It could be with a student organization or with a club, it could be in a course, it could be in a major.”
Montgomery and Hart have lined up faculty from economics, business, anthropology, and other disciplines to give presentations at the conference, in several cases with students as co-presenters.
As the conference approaches, they are looking for more faculty and students from ACM colleges to attend the conference, and that’s where they bump up against the perception that the conference topic – especially the “entrepreneurship” part – is really only about business.
|“This is thinking of entrepreneurship not [only] as starting a business, but as solving problems and doing something innovative that improves the process.”|
Prof. Mark Montgomery
Not at all, according to Montgomery and Hart. The topic applies across the curriculum. “A faculty presenter last year had an arts program, and one of the students opened an art gallery,” Montgomery noted. “This is thinking of entrepreneurship not [only] as starting a business, but as solving problems and doing something innovative that improves the process.”
Hart, joined by Ripon College student Emily Summers, who participated in the Chicago Program last spring, will give a presentation at the conference about ways that the program’s experiential approach focuses on the creative process as the foundation of innovation and entrepreneurship, whether it occurs in a business, a non-profit organization, or in government.
Using site visits to businesses and community organizations, guest speakers, readings and assignments, and engagement with the city’s neighborhoods, Hart’s seminar on entrepreneurship – and the Chicago Program in general – “create spaces in which students make connections with people, concepts, and ideas,” she explained. “When that happens, it’s authentic, not contrived or forced. It might not be the way I would have planned it, but each student finds their own way and develops their own creative impulse. We try to provide an environment where that can happen.”
This will the third annual Schumptoberfest – the nickname is a tip of the hat to economist Joseph Schumpeter and his groundbreaking work on entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as the timing of the conference in the autumn – and the first to be hosted by Grinnell. After being supported last year by the ACM Faculty Career Enhancement (FaCE) Project, the conference is now co-sponsored by the Donald L. Wilson Program in Enterprise and Leadership at Grinnell, which provides the funding, and the ACM Chicago Program: Arts, Entrepreneurship, & Urban Studies.
For faculty and students at ACM colleges, there is no charge to attend Schumptoberfest 2012 and meals at the conference are included. Registration information and forms are available on the conference website.
- Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Liberal Arts Curriculum (“Schumptoberfest 2012”) website
- Chicago Program: Arts, Entrepreneurship, & Urban Studies
- The Donald L. Wilson Program in Enterprise and Leadership at Grinnell College