Carmen Szabo, Lecturer in Theatre
“USE was very helpful all through the process of application by meeting with me and helping me understand the connections that already existed between my own modules and enterprise education.”
In 2011 USE offered one full bursary for the International Entrepreneurship Educators Programme (IEEP) to University of Sheffield early years academics. Carmen Szabo, from the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, was awarded this bursary.
Carmen joined the University of Sheffield as a Lecturer in 2009 after two years teaching Drama at University College Dublin, where she also got her PhD in Theatre Studies. Her current research interests are focused on physical theatre, performance studies and especially issues of play and playing within the theatrical framework.
Carmen learned about the opportunity to apply for IEEP from a Faculty of Arts email, which highlighted the need to involve early career Arts and Humanities lecturers in implementing enterprise skills within Arts and Humanities modules. Carmen realized that while many of the modules that she was running in Theatre and Performance contained the transferable skills that the IEEP was interested in implementing.
“The skills were not consciously flagged up for the students, thus graduates were often unaware of the skills they acquire within an Arts and Humanities degree,” said Carmen. She hoped that by attending the IEEP modules she would be able to theoretically understand and conceptualise the main principles of enterprise education and to coherently translate this understanding to the students in order to facilitate their chances for employment after graduation.
For Carmen the IEEP has been an eye opener. “It has proved that there is a strong connection between enterprise education and the Arts and Humanities,” she said. Enterprise in the curriculum did not mean much to her before IEEP. She had heard of it but she did not think that there was a connection between enterprise and theatre, and that it only applied to business studies and science degrees. She still recalls her initial reaction of scepticism and panic when she joined the programme and attended the first module.
“It was due to a certain imbedded reaction that most arts and humanities scholars traditionally have when they hear words like entrepreneurship and enterprise education, said Carmen. “These expressions always send us to a vicious world of corporate business which has nothing to do, or so I thought, with the idealistic view we have of our humanities degrees.
“Many of my colleagues, including me, have thought that by attempting to implement enterprise skills in our modules, we are selling our souls to the corporate and business world.
“However, IEEP clarified this for me and made me understand that we are already doing many of the things the IEEP advocates within our modules, especially my theatre and performance modules.”
Carmen believes that one of the most valuable things she has learnt from IEEP is how to translate “the scary words of business into a language that speak fluently to Arts and Humanities lecturers and students, so that both groups become aware of the invaluable skills they have or are acquiring in order to enhance employability and impact within the community.” IEEP also helped her in clarifying her own teaching philosophy by thinking more critically about her modules and the methods she uses for teaching.
“I have finally become more confident in talking about enterprise and attempting to implement enterprise skills within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at a larger scale than I initially forecasted,” said Carmen who is half way through the programme.
IEEP has given Carmen an understanding of enterprise skills and helped her to realise that implementation of entrepreneurial behaviour already exists in the majority of the modules she runs (presentation and research skills, spotting new possibilities, solving problems both individually and in a group, teamwork, etc.) but that these skills need to be clearly highlighted in module descriptors and that part of the assessment should take into consideration the ways in which students use these skills in class activities. For this, she stresses that it is key to have a variety of teaching methods (she mainly uses inquiry based learning techniques) and also a variety of assessment methods (like critical reflection portfolios, presentation pitches, etc.).
Carmen has clear plans to use the knowledge and experienced acquired through the IEEP. “My main aim is to create a cross faculty module based on enquiry based learning techniques which would attempt to coherently and consciously imbed enterprise and entrepreneurship skills. This module would ask students to use the skills they have acquired during their various degrees to solve problems posed by a real client, the assessment being done through critical reflection and group presentations which will also be assessed by the client”. It is also her ambition to become an enterprise champion in her School and try to implement enterprise in the curriculum in response to the 2012 promise that the University of Sheffield is making to first year students joining the University in September 2012.
USE fully supported Carmen financially in order that she could attend the programme through the payment of fees and travel expenses.
“USE is a vital source for creating connections within industry and facilitating meetings with various entrepreneurs,” said Carmen “And is a source for moral and logistics support for my activity at the University.”
Carmen highly recommends the IEEP to other University of Sheffield academics. She thinks that IEEP is “especially useful for lecturers in Arts and Humanities as it opens up a variety of opportunities for improving the creation of modules and teaching techniques”.