Educating Educators, Babson Academy Pivots Toward the Future

Amir Reza on campus in 2018

A typical week for Amir Reza, dean of Babson Academy for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurial Learning, might take him to eight countries.

“Some days, I’ll start in one time zone in the morning, and end the day in another,” he said. “I’ll wake up early for a meeting with United Arab Emirates University, and my last call of the evening could be with partners in Indonesia, and for them it is tomorrow already!”

It’s all part of life in our new, virtual normal, and Reza and his team at Babson Academy take it in stride.

Access. Inspiration. Connection.

Charged with a mission to convene and connect entrepreneurship educators worldwide, Babson Academy historically hosted frequent in-person programs at Babson and on partner campuses around the world, as well as an annual global summit.

“Before, we were accustomed to having a plethora of individuals coming to Babson,” Reza said. “COVID stopped that mobility altogether.”

The pandemic sparked a complete reimagination for the Babson Academy team about how to provide international faculty and students with access to the College’s environment, inspiration in their entrepreneurship classrooms, and connection with fellow entrepreneurship educators.

Reza believes that against the backdrop of 2020’s troubling headlines, entrepreneurship education is more essential than ever. He points to business disruption, climate change, the future of work, and the future of humanity as complex issues that require an entrepreneurial skill set.

“Future leaders must have skills and attitudes that help them do more than just avoid problems,” Reza said. “They should embrace problems that matter to society and use their entrepreneurial mindset to bring about potential solutions.”

Check out the latest programs and events from Babson Academy, including The One Hour Entrepreneurship Educator webinar series.

A Glimpse into Babson’s Ecosystem

Without question, shifting all of the academy’s in-person programs online has made them more accessible to more faculty and students around the world than before.

Reza and his team are especially excited about Babson Academy’s new monthly webinar series, The One Hour Entrepreneurship Educator. “There are so many talented professors at Babson,” he said. “Other entrepreneurship educators are eager to engage with us, and get a glimpse into the Babson ecosystem.”

Each month, a Babson faculty member shares their research and expertise, connecting it back to the classroom. The conversations explore what the research means for students, for professors, or for the larger educational environment.

By all accounts, the series is a hit. Participants ranging from vice provosts to junior faculty to senior faculty and center directors have tuned in for Professor Sebastian Fixson’s discussion on how to teach innovation, and prior to that, Assistant Professor Beth Wynstra’s workshop on tips for fine tuning your video voice for online teaching.

“We had well over 100 educators, from as far away as Ghana and Thailand, spending the morning together to dig in on innovation,” Reza said. “In many ways, we’re able to inspire other educators in the ways they teach and do research in their home contexts, which is what the academy is all about.”

Educating Educators in the New Normal

The One Hour Entrepreneurship Educator is far from the only new project Reza’s team has introduced. This January, they’ll launch Building an Entrepreneurship Education Ecosystem, a brand-new online program for entrepreneurship educators, university administrators, and center directors who are growing ecosystems on their campuses.

University students can get a taste of a Babson education through January’s Entrepreneurial Mindshift online course, a new one-week program that helps bachelor’s and master’s students act on entrepreneurial opportunities.

Reza is quick to credit his team and Babson faculty for their hard work and diligence, praising the way the team pivoted to create new programs that serve the needs of educators and students around the world.

“There’s a hunger for connection with Babson,” Reza adds, “which is deeply rewarding.”

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