Intellectual Entrepreneurship

Intellectual Entrepreneurship is a philosophy and vision of education viewing academics as “innovators” and “agents of change.” It focuses on creating cross-disciplinary and multi-institutional collaborations designed to produce intellectual advancements with a capacity to provide real solutions to society’s problems and needs. Intellectual Entrepreneurship is academic engagement for the purpose of changing lives.

Intellectual Entrepreneurship moves the mission of institutions of higher learning from “advancing the frontiers of knowledge” and “preparing tomorrow’s leaders” to also “serving as engines of economic and social development.” In the process, the role of faculty member and student evolves from that of “intellectual provocateur” to becoming what might be called an “intellectual entrepreneur.” Intellectual Entrepreneurship includes a readiness to seek out opportunities, undertake the responsibility associated with each and tolerate the uncertainty that comes with initiating genuine innovation. Intellectual Entrepreneurship changes the model and metaphor of higher education from one of “apprenticeship-certification-entitlement” to one of “discovery-ownership-accountability.”

Intellectual Entrepreneurship is premised on the belief that intellect is not limited to the academy and entrepreneurship is not restricted to or synonymous with business. Entrepreneurship is a process of cultural innovation. While the creation of material wealth is one expression of entrepreneurship, at a more profound level entrepreneurship is an attitude for engaging the world. Intellectual entrepreneurs, both inside and outside universities, take risks and seize opportunities, discover and create knowledge, innovate, collaborate and solve problems in any number of social realms: corporate, non-profit, government, and education.

Intellectual entrepreneurs understand that genuine collaboration between universities and the public is tantamount to more than increased “access” to the academy’s intellectual assets. It is more than “knowledge transfer”–the exportation of neatly wrapped solutions rolling off the campus conveyer belt. Collaboration demands mutual humility and respect, joint ownership of learning and co-creation of an unimagined potential for innovation–qualities that move universities well beyond the typical elitist sense of “service.” Knowledge, after all, involves the integration of theory, practice and production.

The IE initiative is championed by Professor Richard Cherwitz at the University of Texas, Austin.