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Community Colleges as Incubators of Innovation

reviewed by Yi Leaf Zhang - October 02, 2019

coverTitle: Community Colleges as Incubators of Innovation
Author(s): Rebecca A. Corbin & Ron Thomas (Eds.)
Publisher: Stylus Publishing, Sterling, VA
ISBN: 1620368633, Pages: 204, Year: 219
Search for book at Amazon.com

Since their inception in the early 1900s, community colleges in the United States have played an important role in addressing the needs of local employers and preparing a skilled workforce. Indeed, through their open-door policy, community colleges provide opportunities to students who otherwise might not have access to post-secondary education, helping prepare a diversified workforce for local communities. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution underway, it has become increasingly clear to community college leaders, policy-makers, and local businesses that community colleges are uniquely poised to not only prepare individuals for today’s workforce but also for the workforce of the future. Given this background, Community Colleges as Incubators of Innovation: Unleashing Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Communities and Students, newly published by the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), is a timely publication addressing this important national workforce agenda.

This book emphasizes the pressing need for community colleges to play a major role in providing entrepreneurship education for all students and in promoting innovative entrepreneurial initiatives that benefit local communities. In addition, this book calls for a broader view of entrepreneurship education, encourages community colleges to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset when creating entrepreneurial programs and learning environments, and offers strategies for collaborating with local businesses and communities.

This book consists of nine chapters in addition to an introduction and a conclusion. Each chapter provides a particular perspective, while collectively they offer a coherent understanding of entrepreneurship education and depict a fuller picture of the entrepreneurial ecosystem through the lens of community colleges.

More specifically, in Chapter One, Langemo introduces a broader concept of entrepreneurship education, arguing that it is a mindset focused on problem-based learning that can empower every student to succeed in the 21st-century workforce. In Chapter Two, Gold and Kerly use Hillsborough Community College as an example, offering step-by-step instructions on how to build entrepreneurship programs at community colleges that can contribute to the new economy and benefit students. Next, in Chapter Three, Giovannini incorporates his first-hand experiences in developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem in multiple institutions and emphasizes the importance of adopting an entrepreneurial mindset to advance entrepreneurial culture and education. In Chapter Four, Mullin and Winkel discuss the importance of entrepreneurship education in workforce development and the critical role that community colleges can play in contributing to entrepreneurship education, which ultimately leads to job creation and economic growth.

In Chapter FIve, Tello adopts Isenberg’s (2011) model to explain the six major domains of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Lowell, Massachusetts, including (a) Conductive culture, (b) supportive policies and leadership, (c) institutional and infrastructure support, (d) high-quality human capital, (e) appropriate financial capital, and (f) venture-friendly markets. In Chapter Six, Hoover highlights the success stories and histories of building entrepreneurial ecosystems for K-12 students, college students, and adults in Northeast Ohio in the past decade. Hoover also shares significant lessons learned in developing youth, collegiate, and adult ecosystems. In Chapter Seven, Terrell and Kapp focus on a small community college and its critical role in developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem in West Virginia. This case study highlights the significance of an entrepreneurial mindset and attitude, providing insightful implications for other rural communities in the United States.

In Chapter Eight, Pumariega and Henderson articulate how community colleges can serve as entrepreneurial catalysts, using the Florida College System as an example. They also discuss two different perspectives on entrepreneurship in relation to community colleges: (a) community colleges offer various entrepreneurship education resources for students and local communities; and (b) community colleges adopt an entrepreneurial approach in serving the needs of students and communities. Finally, in Chapter Nine, Ton-Quinlivan emphasizes how community colleges can use Doing What Matters as a framework for collaborating with other stakeholders to develop entrepreneurship education and promote local and regional economies.

Overall, this book has several unique merits. First, it incorporates both theoretical groundings and practical perspectives. The book not only focuses on theoretical frameworks and models that address the underlying factors that influence the development of entrepreneurial mindsets and ecosystems; it also highlights the valuable first-hand experiences gained by community college leaders and entrepreneurial education experts regarding how community colleges can serve as focal points for entrepreneurship education, thereby impacting job creation and economic development.

Second, the book provides a wide variety of examples that will be relevant to a broad spectrum of community college leaders, practitioners, and policymakers. The examples used in the book include rural, urban, and suburban community colleges, and vary from states with a relatively small number of community colleges to those with large, complex community college systems. These different cases offer new knowledge relevant to specific contexts and also allow readers to understand the complexity and diversity inherent in creating sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Another important contribution of the book is that it provides multiple perspectives on entrepreneurship. For instance, the book redefines entrepreneurship education and addresses the importance of developing an entrepreneurial mindset that can benefit all students with 21-century skills. This book also highlights different roles that community colleges could play in developing entrepreneurial ecosystems, such as providing curricula and programs focused on leadership, strategic and critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and creativity, all of which are skills needed for students to succeed in the future workforce; adopting an entrepreneurial approach to satisfy the needs of individuals and communities; and serving as leaders in collaborations among local communities and businesses for economic and civic development. In addition, this book discusses various critical factors that impact the success of entrepreneurial ecosystems, such as leadership, trust relationships, sustainable resources, and alignment with community college missions.

There is no doubt that the discussion of entrepreneurship education through a community college lens will become even more crucial as the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues to evolve and develop. Although this book provides invaluable lessons and experiences from community college leaders and experts in entrepreneurial education, for future NACCE publications, books emphasizing students’ perspectives could help community colleges deepen their understanding of the impact of entrepreneurship education on individuals’ short- and long-term success. Books that highlight step-by-step strategies to developing entrepreneurial pathways for K-12 schools, community colleges, and four-year universities could also provide practical guidelines for community college leaders and practitioners who are interested in instilling the entrepreneurial mindset in their students.




Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: October 02, 2019
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23107, Date Accessed: 1/27/2022 10:07:14 AM

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About the Author
  • Yi Leaf Zhang
    University of Texas at Arlington
    E-mail Author
    YI LEAF ZHANG is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Zhang has developed a strong interest in studying college access and success, especially in the community college context. Her research focuses on community colleges as a gateway to STEM education, transfer students’ educational pathways, and international education in four-year and two-year institutions. One of her most recent studies, “From a Community College Attendant to a Baccalaureate Recipient in STEM Fields of Study: A Planned Behavior Model for Transfer Students,” was published in the Journal of Higher Education. Dr. Zhang is currently working on two major research projects funded by NSF and the Greater Texas Foundation regarding community college transfer students’ STEM choice, college experience, and degree attainment.
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