GSE Serves Up a Delicious Course in Entrepreneurship

February 20, 2013 - “Brown Butter Maple Shortbreads” and “Hazelnut Financiers” were served in a recent all-day session of the Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division's perennially popular course “Education and Social Entrepreneurship.” The baked goods are just the latest example of how GSE’s newest Senior Fellow, Martin Ihrig, delivers the goods on entrepreneurship. Ihrig has invited a series of guest lecturers to help his students gain an overview of what entrepreneurship is and how it relates to education, social wealth creation, and the emerging knowledge economy.

The baked goods arrived courtesy of Alicia Polak, Executive Director of The Bread Project, a Berkeley-based nonprofit that provides on-the-job training in their social enterprises and assistance with establishing a career in the food industry. Polak regaled the class with success stories from The Bread Project as well as her experiences as founder of the Khaya Cookie Company in South Africa, which provides job skills to South African women. The class also munched down on an early taste of treats now available in Williams-Sonoma stores – and which will be providing new jobs for people who have been left out of the system.

Dr. Ihrig, who holds a joint appointment as Senior Fellow at Penn GSE and as Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Wharton School, waxes enthusiastic about teaching the strategic and entrepreneurial management of knowledge.

“With this graduate-level course I really want to give students a thorough academic overview of what entrepreneurship is and relate it to education, social wealth creation and the emerging knowledge society,” he says. “I also want students to understand the dynamics of a globalized knowledge-based economy and how entrepreneurs can drive the dynamic evolution of knowledge. My hope is students will gain a solid theoretical and practical understanding of the ‘art and science’ of entrepreneurship and feel empowered to develop education ventures themselves, either individually through start-ups or in already established educational organizations.”

Future guest lecturers in the class will include two education experts from Penn GSE: Dr. Bobbi Kurshan, Executive Director of Academic Innovation, on “Innovation, Investing, and Entrepreneurship in Education”; and Dr. James Lytle, Practice Professor of Educational Leadership, on “The Emergent Marketization of Public Education.”

Check out more photos of The Bread Project's visit to Penn GSE on Flickr.