Monday, December 15, 2014

The End Draws Nigh: SEDS in Indonesia

By: Ted Glenn, Ph.D., Professor of Public Administration and Program Coordinator at TheBusiness School, Humber College.

This is the fifth blog post that Ted Glenn has written as part of his experience living in Makassar, Sulawesi province, Indonesia, while working on the Sulawesi EconomicDevelopment Strategy Project (SEDS).

Our time here on this phase of the SEDS project in Indonesia is (very) quickly coming to an end. Last week, Ianinta Sembiring (my fellow facilitator here in Makassar), Vanessa Murphy (project support officer here in Makassar) and I traveled to Manado to join our colleagues, Kent Schroeder and Jeff May, at a day-long conference that showcased the curriculum work of our four Manado-based partners, UNSRAT, UNIKA, de la Salle, and UNKLAB. This week, Jeff, Kent and Mary Heather White (SEDS Field Manager) joined us in Makassar to attend a day-long conference that showcased the curriculum work of our three partners here, UNHAS, UNISMUH and UNM. It was great to catch up with Kent and Jeff, compare notes on the workshops and share war stories.
Conference in Makassar
Conference in Makassar
Reflecting back on my experience, I see that a couple of things are standing out right now. First is the nature of the curricula being developed by our partners. From what I’ve seen in Canada, most applied entrepreneurship curricula tend to focus on teaching students how to develop a business plan and turn that plan into a business reality (to borrow a phrase from Humber Business prof Jim Skinner). Entrepreneurial skills are most definitely key and critical parts of the curricula developed here so far. But there are a few things that make these curricula culturally and pedagogically unique.

For example, one overarching goal most of our partners are trying to achieve is selling the idea of entrepreneurship to their students as a financially viable and economically important occupational choice. To this end, our partners have included elements around the “softer” side of entrepreneurship, like being able to identify and cultivate characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, motivation and communication skills.

Our partners are also including modules on gender, environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility, with a focus on how these issues impact entrepreneurship and how related challenges can be addressed through entrepreneurial activities. As relatively new features of the entrepreneurship education landscape everywhere, it will be interesting to see how these elements evolve as curricula are rolled out and feedback from students, instructors and employers is incorporated.

A very interesting and unique element of the curriculum being developed at UNISMUH – a privately-funded Islamic university here in Makassar – is the incorporation of Islamic principles (things like “ethical money,” i.e., ensuring that revenue is not generated from usury but rather honest labour, and community responsibility) into entrepreneurship. Again, it will be interesting to see how this element rolls out in the classroom.

A second thing that stands out for me is the professionally fulfilling and personally rewarding experience I’ve had here. Professionally, working with an incredibly competent partner for full days on three different workshops has forced me to communicate better in and out of the classroom, prepare more efficiently given the full days and tight timelines, and extemporize to a degree that (happily) surprised me. Personally, my son and I have been introduced to a country we have genuinely fallen in love with but realize will take a lifetime to really get to know. We look forward to returning soon.

 "country we have genuinely fallen in love with'
"a country we have genuinely fallen in love with"

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