First GEF micro-event: keys to establishing an entrepreneurial culture at universities

Camilo José Cela University has started the countdown for the kick off the Global Education Forum 3rd Act (GEF), an event in which the UCJC has a clear objective, to create an international community of innovators to give momentum to the debate on the urgent transformation of higher education. The event will be held between 13 to 15 October with the participation of over twenty universities from the five continents and UCJC students and faculty.

In order to prepare this international forum, and to outline some of the most important topics that will be tackled, Camilo José Cela University will host several micro-events on entrepreneurship, wellbeing, social impact and digitization over the coming two weeks in which experts from the UCJC itself will converse with prominent personalities from business and the technology and, above all, education sectors.

The first of these micro-events featured the participation of Marina Kim, co-founder of the AshokaU company, in a conversation with David Martín, Director of Entrepreneurship, Skills and Social Commitment at Camilo José Cela University. The conversation tackled   the challenges higher education faces in transforming itself at all levels in order to be more entrepreneurial and foster innovative learning ecosystems.

“Society must contribute to social impact and become an agent of change”

Marina Kim talked about her experience with the world of entrepreneurship, which began twenty years ago during her time at university, where she discovered how she could combine technology, social impact and her student experience in different ways to create a change in society. “Currently, the world needs more than that, and the main objective of AshokaU is to support the development of society so that all people contribute to social impact and become agents of that change“, she explained.

In Kim’s opinion, to prepare educational institutions and students to adapt to the changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, one only has to look at the changes that have occurred in the world in recent years. “It is important to realise how technology and globalisation have changed the way we perceive the world around us and how people and institutions have adapted to these changes”, she said.

The co-founder of AshokaU believes that the question we must ask ourselves is not whether there will be other crises similar to the one we are experiencing today, but when they will occur and how often. Therefore, in her opinion, “we have the opportunity to prepare ahead of time to turn challenges into opportunities, and that people and institutions adapt better, and more positively, when the next changes arise”, something that can be achieved through entrepreneurship.

“Young people are programmed to innovate”

As an example of the adaptability of educational institutions to crises and changes, Marina Kim mentioned the University of New Orleans following the disaster of hurricane Katrina, and how it was able to rebuild using the motto “How can the university serve the city of New Orleans as it rebuilds?”. In this way, Kim said, this educational institution was the first to offer its students disciplines and degrees on learning services or on social innovations, which allowed them to be entrepreneurial and multidisciplinary in the future and helped their community to rebuild and move forward over the past fifteen years.

Marina Kim pointed out that young people are “programmed to innovate, there are studies that show that they are more open to possibilities”, and that entrepreneurship cannot be understood “without those people who see the world in a different way and from another perspective, who are convinced that they can transform what seems impossible into something possible and real and that they have the energy to achieve it”.

Although she calls herself an innovator, she is aware that “the more time I spend with students, the more I realise that, unlike them, I fundamentally focus on what cannot be done.” Therefore, she said that it is very important that “leaders of educational institutions and teachers spend more time with students, sit at a table to discuss their ideas and collaborate to develop them”.

Lastly, Kim explained how to overcome the resistance to change that some educational institutions still have. “It is important that everyone is included in the changes and collaborates with new ideas, building a trusting relationship with the faculty and that the whole process is very transparent. In this way, nobody will feel excluded or reject the innovations that are carried out”, she concluded.