The 3E Conference 2021

In the spring of 2020, entrepreneurship education had to move online. We now have to ask – what does the ‘new’ entrepreneurship education look like? Through an innovative and non-traditional format, the 3E Conference examined and discussed entrepreneurship education in the 2020ies.

By Lise Aaboen & Tina Larsen

The theme of the conference was “Entrepreneurship education in the 2020ies”. The starting point for the theme was the fact that in the spring of 2020, entrepreneurship education had to move online. This move changed entrepreneurship education during this year. The idea was therefore to utilize the conference for discussions regarding what changes we would like to keep and develop further for future entrepreneurship education. This created several rhetoric questions to inspire potential submitters; What does the ‘new’ entrepreneurship education look like? What new teaching practices where created? What gaps in entrepreneurship literature did we discover and what advances did we make? What core theories became relevant? What research methods enabled us to capture the new reality? What developments will we continue with after the pandemic and what will be the new normal in entrepreneurship education? As usual, the submissions consisted of both research papers and professional development workshops.

ECSB is thrilled with the great success of the virtual edition of the 3E conference in 2021. The great planning and organizing from Engage ensured that the main features of the 3E concept – active engagement, interaction and strong sense of community – carried over to the virtual sphere.”

Ulla Hytti, President-Elect of ECSB / Professor, University of Turku, Finland

The Professional Development Workshops

The Professional Development Workshops (PDWs) at 3E Conferences are characterized by interaction and hands-on trying out of tools that can be implemented in the teaching practice of the entrepreneurship educators as soon as they come home from the conference and this year was no exception. Yvette Baggen and Lisa Ploum from Wageningen University in the Netherlands won the award for best PDW for “Entrepreneurship education canvas: Designing education activating students’ entrepreneurial mindset”. The canvas had been developed as part of their research and the objective of the tool was to facilitate development of entrepreneurship courses and programs by enabling the participants to map out and discuss important entrepreneurship education elements. During the workshop, the participants tried out the canvas in groups and the participants were welcome to bring the canvas home to their own universities.

Three of their Dutch colleagues presented a complementary tool at the subsequent PDW. If an element in your course that has been mapped in the canvas needs to be improved, the complementary tool allows you to brainstorm to come up with innovative solutions by going through several steps where the group for instance try to think of bad solutions and how these could be transformed into good solutions. Whereas these two PDWs, together with a Danish PDW about an education framework explaining the ‘why’ for entrepreneurship education in other disciplines, focused on tools that facilitated interactions and reflection among educators, several of the other PDWs focused on facilitating interaction between students. Maybe not surprisingly after a year online, it was mainly online interaction that was facilitated by the tools that were introduced during the PDWs. For example, there were two PDWs on escape rooms, one where students all around the world could interact regarding improving climate change using avatars on a map, and one tool that mapped the composition of the different members in student teams.

The research papers – “A question that we care about”

The Research papers were presented without power points in shorter sessions compared to when the conference is physical and discussants were appointed to ensure that all authors would get valuable comments to their papers. Experiential learning, learning design and assessment are generally popular topics at this conference. At 3E conferences, the papers include a ‘question that we care about’ instead of a traditional ‘purpose’. From the papers that were presented at this year’s, it seems as if we currently care about why we teach entrepreneurship the way we do.

“3E was my first research conference and where I presented my first research article in the field of Entrepreneurship Education. The 3E conference was a great experience for a nascent PhD-student, thanks to all the nice, dedicated discussants and participants. I’m also grateful to be a part of the Engage Centre, who did an impressive job organize this years digital 3E-conference.”

Ragnhild N Fauchald, Phd. Student

One group of papers explored other settings than venture creation where an entrepreneurial mindset may be useful; retirement, corporate settings, healthcare, and disadvantaged communities. Another group of papers took a critical approach to ‘standardized’ ways of teaching entrepreneurship such as junior achievement, the entrepreneurship competence framework (entrecomp), and adoption of western learning designs without contextualization. A third group of paper highlighted particular dimensions to be included in entrepreneurship education; intuition, emotions and existential learning.

The paper that won the best paper award belong to the third group. “Entrepreneurship as existential learning: The missing link in effectual learning” by Helle Neergaard and Sarah Robinson from Aarhus University won the best paper award. The jury consisting of previous and upcoming conference organizers found the paper to be “A new twist to effectuation-based entrepreneurship education approaches exploring the fundamental motives for thriving and linking it to entrepreneurial behavior.” The tradition to let the three best paper nominees present in plenary keynote sessions remained in the online format.

“I believe that the 3E community is somewhat unique when it comes to engagement and sharing among the participants. We had great fun in the junior session and got inspired by hearing from other juniors´ experiences. My favorite session was the plenary with Helle Neergaard and Sara Robinson, discussing existential learning in EE. I agree that there is an untapped potential in activating students earlier experiences in action-based EE, and it is important to discuss how to do it. I think this was a great example of a 3E paper that makes us think and engage in the question they care about”

Sigrid Brandshaug, Phd. Student