Entrepreneurial Minds: Karin Geuijen

With seven faculties Utrecht University offers several examples of entrepreneurial minds in all fields of study and research. From teachers and students to alumni and researchers, from Humanities to Bio-Inspired Innovation and often interdisciplinary. The Centre for Entrepreneurship inspires by showcasing the entrepreneurial minds within Utrecht University.

Karin Geuijen is assistant professor at Utrecht University School of Governance, where she coordinates the master programme Public Management, the honours programme Young Innovators and co-leads social impact bonds, a monitoring project on innovative financial arrangements for social enterprises. Centre for Entrepreneurship asked her about her view on current entrepreneurship education at Utrecht University.     

In what way are you involved in entrepreneurship education? 

The masters programme Young Innovators is mainly focused on innovation and therefore has overlap with entrepreneurship education. The programme is focused on learning to research, design and deliver innovative and sustainable solutions to real-life societal challenges. The students work together and with external stakeholders and a professional coach that helps them with group dynamics, design thinking and more. I am also involved in Plan Einstein, where entrepreneurial courses are offered to refugees and Overvecht residents and involved in Social Impact Bonds, where young people with poor job prospects follow an intensive trajectory to start their own business. For those two projects, I am currently doing research to find out if these programmes truly are effective.  

Why do you think entrepreneurship education is important for students?  

As a university, we should provide tools to students to help them detect, uncover and solve daily social issues. To ask the question ‘How can I help?’ instead of ‘How can they solve this problem?’ Currently, there is a neo-liberal ambiance where society is very individual-oriented and structural problems are supposed to be solved by individual beings. Students should get the opportunity to see the big picture and look at where societal issues originate from and what obstacles need to be overcome to solve them. That is what entrepreneurship is all about.

"Show students that only by working together, real-life societal challenges are solved."

How would you recommend implementing entrepreneurship in a programme? 

There are multiple ways to implement entrepreneurship in the current curriculum, but I prefer doing cases on social issues. Students take a closer look at the current situation, they have to interview fitting individuals and write a short recommendation report on the topic in a week. Most of my students are very positive about this method: they have no knowledge of the subject, but still need to deliver a qualitative paper in one week. This approach could work for all teachers and faculties. 

What are the next steps for education at UU?

Traditionally, the university connects students, teachers and external organisations but we barely involve other groups such as working professionals following a master’s programme or refugees that do not follow a fulltime trajectory. They have such different views on how to act entrepreneurial or how to solve certain problems. More collaboration between these groups could be very useful. Next to that, we as a university repeatedly try to invent the wheel ourselves, while on national and international level interesting things are happening already when looking at entrepreneurship implementation. We could learn a lot from what other universities have to offer and we are, unfortunately, not making enough use of that. Even between faculties and inside faculties, good communication on implementation is scarce and should be improved. 

Are you interested in entrepreneurship? Take a look at the Centre for Entrepreneurship's website www.uu.nl/entrepreneurship.