Edited by G. Page West III, Elizabeth J. Gatewood and Kelly G. Shaver
Chapter 5: Entrepreneurship as a Liberal Art
Jerry Gustafson* Introduction In spite of an explosion of programs in colleges and universities, entrepreneurship education still lacks wide acceptance across the breadth of academe. Although things have improved, the subject is still regarded with skepticism in many quarters. Perhaps hostility remains particularly in the small, classic liberal arts college. Objections there to entrepreneurship go beyond the complaints frequent in the business schools about the putative lack of disciplinary standing, rigor, or careful research. In the liberal arts context, entrepreneurship is often taken as vocational, materialistic, self-interested, and of questionable ethics. On such grounds, many think it beyond the pale of liberal education. Yet entrepreneurship education is of essential intrinsic value. It is also a powerful encouragement to the engagement in learning that so heightens the quality of the entire educational experience. As one attempts to craft a thoroughgoing apology for inclusion of entrepreneurship in the liberal arts one is struck further by its promotion of the achievement of self-agency so coveted by the arts for its graduates. The rationale for entrepreneurship as a vital complement to traditional curricular fare is strong enough that an advocate senses, perhaps with surprise, the possession of the high ground. An initial polite tapping on the curricular door gives rise eventually to a more full-throated offense. Readers might logically expect the case for inclusion to be addressed directly to those skeptical academics in accepted fields who hold the keys to entry. Those persons need to be won with earnest respect and reason. This outline...
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