Take, for example, the textbook definition of entrepreneur: A person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk. Now, switch out the words “enterprise” and “business” with words such as “research” or “education”. This is the concept of intellectual entrepreneurship. It is the concept of taking risk, seizing opportunity, discovering and creating knowledge and employing ones own innovation and strategies, with the ultimate goal of solving problems in corporate, societal or governmental environments. An intellectual entrepreneur knows more about his or her self than about their discipline, and thus, actively seeks out their own education, knowing that it cannot be handed to them. Intellectual entrepreneurs “own” their education, and consequentially, control their future. A true entrepreneur embodies synergy beyond the conception of a traditional scholar, understanding that real-world problems can’t be categorized by single disciplines. The philosophy of IE embodies four core values: vision and discovery, ownership and accountability, integrative thinking and action, and collaboration and teamwork. These core values are of equal importance when considering IE. However, relevant to my own professional development, I found integrative thinking and action to be the most influential.
The concept of employing integrative thinking strategies and actions embodies a sense of open mindedness, realizing the necessity to transcend partial or individual knowledge. This concept realizes that it is essential to move beyond conventional knowledge, and accept that real-world problems don’t always fit into one single discipline. In thinking beyond academic discretion and predisposed truths, the concept of integrative thinking allows an intellectual entrepreneur to get a better sense of self. There is no question of the individuality of every scholar or professional, however, when knowledge is spread or shared in a vacuum, such as most conventional learning, this individuality is masked by aggregated “expertise” and inherent “truths”, particularly within a specific discipline. In discovering more about self, the intellectual entrepreneur can, in turn, discover more about their discipline. In my opinion, the ultimate understanding of a discipline is defined by what you, as an individual, can contribute to that discipline. In order to discover what we as individuals have to offer, we must first discover ourselves as intellectual individuals.
In a society where critical thinking is becoming increasingly secondary to the discrete and inherent or empirical “truths” of the disciplines, it is imperative that we maintain this sense of integrative thinking and action. I feel that the ability and the opportunity to transcend this vacuum of conventional knowledge-gaining will be critical to discovering myself, and what I can contribute to my discipline. Ultimately, a better sense of self and sense of purpose, I hope, will result in my advancement, academically and professionally.