Stanford’s Entrepreneurship Corner: Wendy Kopp, Teach for America – Social Entrepreneurship Changing Education [Entire Talk]

Perhaps there is no more impactful student founder, social entrepreneur that Wendy Kopp of Teach for America.  The full talk is about an hour and well worth it, especially if interested in social impact, education or starting a venture while a students.

Hope you enjoy it.

Stanford’s Entrepreneurship Corner: Wendy Kopp, Teach for America – Social Entrepreneurship Changing Education [Entire Talk].



Christian Smith, #HigherEd and Bullshit

My colleague Jim Wolfe pointed me to a Christian Smith’s recent op-ed, Higher Education is Drowning in BS; and it morally corrosive to society! Smith, a professor of sociology at Notre Dame, really lays out a laundry list of sins committed by our institutions, their leaders, funders and bureaucrats! From the Chronicle of Higher Education (here are a few of my favorites)

I have had nearly enough bullshit. The manure has piled up so deep in the hallways, classrooms, and administration buildings of American higher education that I am not sure how much longer I can wade through it and retain my sanity and integrity.

Even worse, the accumulated effects of all the academic BS are contributing to this country’s disastrous political condition and, ultimately, putting at risk the very viability and character of decent civilization. What do I mean by BS?

BS is the university’s loss of capacity to grapple with life’s Big Questions, because of our crisis of faith in truth, reality, reason, evidence, argument, civility, and our common humanity.

BS is the farce of what are actually “fragmentversities” claiming to be universities, of hyperspecialization and academic disciplines unable to talk with each other about obvious shared concerns.

BS is the expectation that a good education can be provided by institutions modeled organizationally on factories, state bureaucracies, and shopping malls — that is, by enormous universities processing hordes of students as if they were livestock, numbers waiting in line, and shopping consumers.

BS is universities hijacked by the relentless pursuit of money and prestige, including chasing rankings that they know are deeply flawed, at the expense of genuine educational excellence (to be distinguished from the vacuous “excellence” peddled by recruitment and “advancement” offices in every run-of-the-mill university).

BS is the ideologically infused jargon deployed by various fields to stake out in-group self-importance and insulate them from accountability to those not fluent in such solipsistic language games.

BS is a tenure system that provides guaranteed lifetime employment to faculty who are lousy teachers and inactive scholars, not because they espouse unpopular viewpoints that need the protection of “academic freedom,” but only because years ago they somehow were granted tenure.

BS is the shifting of the “burden” of teaching undergraduate courses from traditional tenure-track faculty to miscellaneous, often-underpaid adjunct faculty and graduate students.

BS is states pounding their chests over their great public universities even while their legislatures cut higher-education budgets year after year after year.

BS is the fantasy that education worthy of the name can be accomplished online through “distance learning.”

BS is the institutional reward system that coerces graduate students and faculty to “get published” as soon and as much as possible, rather than to take the time to mature intellectually and produce scholarship of real importance — leading to a raft of books and articles that contribute little to our knowledge about human concerns that matter.

BS is third-tier universities offering mediocre graduate programs to train second-rate Ph.D. students for jobs that do not exist, whose real function is to provide faculty with graduate RAs and to justify the title of “university.”

There is plenty more in there and well worth reading. So many instances of BS its hard to know which to fix or how to fix it.

A couple of more.

BS is the standard undergraduate student mentality, fostered by our entire culture, that sees college as essentially about credentials and careers (money), on the one hand, and partying oneself into stupefaction on the other.

BS is the failure of leaders in higher education to champion the liberal-arts ideal — that college should challenge, develop, and transform students’ minds and hearts so they can lead good, flourishing, and socially productive lives — and their stampeding into the “practical” enterprise of producing specialized workers to feed The Economy.

Road Ahead for America’s Colleges and Universities

Two economists from William & Mary offer their insights into the challenges and opportunities ahead for higher education in the United States. A question and answer session from Inside Higher Education with Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman, authors of, The Road Ahead for America’s Colleges and Universities.

Archibald and Feldman’s predictions aren’t as sweeping or attention grabbing as Harvard professor Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation. In fact, they’re happy to distance themselves from the world’s most aggressive prognosticators, arguing futurists are people who are happy if you don’t read their books in 20 years. They point out that the future is not preordained and can instead be changed by policy choices, economic decisions and other unforeseen events.

Nonetheless, they acknowledge that forces — notably income inequality — are making it increasingly hard for many students to pay for college. Institutions serving underprivileged students are facing some of the greatest threats, they argue. As such, the higher education system’s ability to drive economic opportunity is uncertain going forward.

China Rising as Higher Education Power

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Keith Burnett, writes in the Times Higher Education that China will take a dominant position in higher education. He appears to be making this statement based on pure size, scale, holding now place for academic practices and campus norms in national systems of higher education. He makes valid points in some cases (china is now the 4th most popular destination for overseas students!).

From Burnett in the Times Higher Education,

If you think of higher education as a global luxury good (as I have heard it described), then you can easily grasp why Chinese families buy a big chunk of the very finest higher education “product”: degrees from UK institutions. And let’s be honest, that demand has been the salvation of many UK universities’ financial bottom lines.

But when you look at the better and fancier options now coming out of China – in everything from next-generation transport to technology – you will see that there are fewer and fewer things they cannot make. This should make us all tremble.

It tells us that our higher education brands will have more and more competition in the years ahead, as China itself sets targets to become a destination for students from across the Belt and Road and beyond.

The UK might have Harry Potter, Downton Abbey and Sherlock on our side, but as public investment in research and teaching falls while China’s rises, our edge can’t last for ever. China, for the record, is now the fourth most popular destination for students studying overseas.

Should US higher education leaders be worried? — they, too, have relied on Chinese students — from PhDs to undergrads (a more recent trend!)… Lets not forget, one of the reasons entrepreneurs have succeeded on campus is because higher education itself is a massive marketplace (from food and fun to books, housing and media products!).

Korean University at Consumer Electronics Show

While perusing through the Consumer Electronics Show website I noticed a University Innovations section for exhibitors, from there I found a list of featured innovators — assuming that means they paid extra for marketing dollars. A few of the featured include, Case Western University (with a heavy presence), the University of Nevada Las Vegas (the Shark and Guy Fieri?), and Hanyang University, based in Seoul.  Their listing states they are focused on 5 product categories (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, Gaming, Safety and Security Products, Sensors, and Wearables)..

Some more about Hanyang University from Wikipedia. It appears that its an ‘older’ South Korean private university that focuses on engineering and practical education — ranked 30 in Asia on the QS rankings.

Is attending CES a good idea for a major research university? Clearly the South Korean Government sees university spinouts as good policy and has for nearly 10 years. Will have to watch for Hanyang and other Korean universities to see if this government led policy has worked for society, students and the achievement of university missions.

For my research and understanding of campus innovation ecosystems check out this recent paper on SSRN: The Campus as Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: The University of Chicago.

Shark Kevin O’Leary Visits Harvard Business School

Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank visits Harvard Business School and offers a few nuggets of truth. Kevin also listens to pitches from some of the student founders. While Kevin recognizes the advantages of launching at Harvard University, he does not realize how much schools like George Mason University, University of Chicago and others are doing to provide real opportunities to experience entrepreneurship and innovation on campus — now.

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Mark Zuckerberg’s 2018 Challenge; Save Facebook

For those who have been watching Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg for years (as I have); each year Zuck creates a personal challenge for growth. Mark Zuckerberg’s 2018 challenge is specifically focused on his company — very different from recent challenges – visit all 50 states, learn Mandarin, read lots of books. From Zuckerberg’s post:

For example, one of the most interesting questions in technology right now is about centralization vs decentralization. A lot of us got into technology because we believe it can be a decentralizing force that puts more power in people’s hands. (The first four words of Facebook’s mission have always been “give people the power”.) Back in the 1990s and 2000s, most people believed technology would be a decentralizing force.

But today, many people have lost faith in that promise. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.

There are important counter-trends to this –like encryption and cryptocurrency — that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands. But they come with the risk of being harder to control. I’m interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.

Here is coverage of Zuckerberg’s challenge and its attempt to avoid government interference — from TechCrunch (Romain Dillet) and CNBC (Michelle Castillo). 

Here is an article from Fast Company on some of Zuckerberg’s personal self improvement goals from the past.