Aarhus Universitets segl

Teaching for Meaningful Learning

Teaching is central to the university’s mission as it is the vehicle by which new generations become equipped to be citizens of the future. However, teaching has increasingly become of interest to national governments whose policies have focused on standardization and accreditation, even to the ‘usefulness’ of a degree, teaching for a knowledge society, for relevance and employability etc. Politically at least, it is clear that teaching has a particular agenda and outcome. Drawing on nearly a decade of educational research and teaching in higher education, this project seeks to enable a re-turn to teaching as a powerful tool to equip students to be active democratic citizens.

This project takes its starting point in research into entrepreneurship education as value creation and moving outside a narrow focus on venture creation and start-ups. A broader understanding encourages students to combine their academic knowledge with their own way of perceiving and understanding the world in order to work with authentic problems and to create value for others. The value created could be social, cultural, political, environmental etc. Economic value is never a goal in itself. In particular, in the humanities, entrepreneurship education has a number of different formats and discourses. It has been recognized that entrepreneurship is more widely applicable as a method than a goal. Based on learning from entrepreneurship as a method more students become engaged and are able to mirror themselves in processes where being entrepreneurial is acknowledged as an everyday practice. Therefore, new pedagogies are being developed and designed for a wide range of disciplines. Developing innovative pedagogies, combined with the learning from the research over the past decade, are the stimulus for this project that focuses on providing resources to support faculty to teach for meaningful learning.


The research methods have been mainly ethnographic, although a variety of novel qualitative research methods have been tested e.g. think-aloud protocol, learning journal reflections, drawings using metaphors, and digital social learning tools etc. The follow-up research in the Humanities has been strongly linked to notions of the role and purpose of the university and to philosophical questions about student being and becoming as humans, about the development of student identity, and engaging with individual potential for active and democratic citizenship. Therefore, there is both a conceptual and empirical basis in this research that explores ways to strengthen the purpose and role of the modern university both philosophically and practically.


This project seeks to;

  • support teaching faculty interested in developing their teaching in higher education.
  • demonstrate opportunities for meaningful learning within academic communities.
  • link student learning to societal challenges and issues.
  • take a cross-disciplinary stance on how innovative pedagogies can be designed.
  • offer potential frameworks for structuring didactic designs firmly rooted in disciplinary concepts and methods. 
  • suggest ways in which to strengthen dialogue and reflection among faculty on teaching

Read more

  • Shumar, W. & Robinson, S. (2019) Agency, risk-taking and identity in entrepreneurship education Journal of Philosophy and Theory in Higher Education 1 (3) Peter Lang 153-174
  • Günzel-Jensen, F. & Robinson, S. (2017) Effectuation in the undergraduate classroom: Three barriers to entrepreneurial learning Journal of Education and Training 59 (3) 234-249
  • Robinson, S., Neergaard, H., Tanggaard, L. & Krueger, N. (2016) New horizons in entrepreneurship education; from teacher-led to student-centered learning Journal of Education and Training 58 (7/8) 661-683
  • Robinson, S. Thestrup, K. & Shumar, W. (2021) Creating experimenting communities for the future university In S. Bengtsen, S. Robinson & W. Shumar (eds.) The Becoming university; Perspectives from Philosophy and Social Theory Springer
  • Robinson, S. (2020) Ethnography for engaging students with higher education and societal issues in C. Wieser and A. Pilch Ortega (eds.) Ethnography in Higher Education Springer pp. 93-110
  • Shumar, W. & Robinson, S. (2018) Universities as Societal Drivers: Entrepreneurial Interventions for a Better Future In S. Bengtsen & R. Barnett (eds.) The Thinking University A Philosophical Examination of Thought and Higher Education Springer pp. 31-46
  • Shumar, W. and Robinson, S. (2018) Rethinking the Entrepreneurial University for the 21st Century. In Peters, M. A., & Barnett, R. (eds.), The Idea of the University: Volume 2 – Contemporary Perspectives. Peter Lang pp. 78-94
  • Thestrup, K. & Robinson, S. (2016) Towards an entrepreneurial mindset; Empowering learners in an open laboratory In P. Papadopolous, R. Burger & A. Faria (eds.) Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Education Vol. 2 Emerald pp. 147-168


This project is based on a collaboration between Associate Professor Martin Lackéus, Chalmers Technical University, Gothenburg, Sweden, Professor Wesley Shumar, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA and Associate Professor, Sarah Robinson, Centre for Educational Development, Aarhus University, Denmark.