A bright PhD student at another university emailed a question to me in the context of developing a paper he is writing on the emergence of arts entrepreneurship programs in higher ed. Admittedly, my answer addresses his question somewhat indirectly, but responds to it nonetheless. I share his question and my response:
Some critics and scholars suggest that entrepreneurship cannot be taught, that entrepreneurial learning is not measurable, and that there is no consensus on educational goals. How might the emerging field of arts entrepreneurship education respond to or best address these criticisms?
For arts entrepreneurship to develop as a field or a discipline, it needs to articulate the unique knowledges, theories, and methodologies that define it as a field. Doing so requires research and knowledge-building of that field – not about its place in universities and teaching institutions – but knowledge building and research of arts entrepreneurship practice that then feeds back into the university classrooms and studios where arts entrepreneurship is taught. Academic disciplines are built on the research that unearths, explains and disseminates the unique knowledges, theories, and methodologies of a domain. This goes to explain why there is not consensus on educational goals. There cannot be consensus on learning goals until there is a consensus on what arts entrepreneurship “is.” The literature on arts entrepreneurship is disproportionately weighted with articles about pedagogy and the placement of arts entrepreneurship in higher ed. While these topics are important and I myself have contributed to them, they do not directly advance knowledge-building about arts entrepreneurship itself as a field of practice and inquiry. Research on arts entrepreneurship pedagogy contributes to the knowledge base in the field known as “the scholarship of teaching and learning” and on its placement in higher ed contributes to the discipline of “higher ed administration.”
That having been said, yes, arts entrepreneurship can be taught (in a variety of ways), and the outcomes of that teaching can be measured (in a variety of ways). For example, experiential learning in our arts venture incubator has, thus far, proven effective in increasing student self-efficacy relative to arts entrepreneurial action. (Self-efficacy having been shown to be a predictor of success in entrepreneurial activity writ large.) In the classroom setting we employ a traditional in-class self-assessment of learning objectives based on a five-point Likert scale in which students respond to the degree to which they agree with statements such as “I understand that there are a variety of business structures that can support the arts.” I refer you to a book chapter and an article that directly address the question of how arts entrepreneurship can be taught:
- Hong-Jo, C., Essig, L., and Bridgstock, R. “The Enterprising Artist and the Arts Entrepreneur: Emergent pedagogies for new disciplinary habits of mind” in N. Chick (ed.) Exploring Signature Pedagogies II, Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 2011.
- Essig, L. “Frameworks for Educating the Artist of the Future: Habits of Mind for Arts Entrepreneurship,” Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts 1 (2), 2013.
For a related post see: A Landscape of Arts Entrepreneurship Education (and Research Agenda)