Learning from Student Leaders and Junior Enterprise in Brazil

I was an academic for 27.5 years before I left to start ThreeJoy and the Big Beacon, and I’ve been to scores of conferences in a score of countries, but perhaps the coolest conference I ever attended was run by students last week (6-10 August 2012) for students, students who are immersed in giving themselves the educations their formal schooling refuses to provide.

Called JEWC or the Junior Enterprise World Congress (here), 2100 students from around the globe gathered at Paraty, Brazil in the State of Rio De Janeiro south of the city of the same name to celebrate their movement of students creating enterprises or consultorias to provide business services in their disciplines to local business as the royal road to giving themselves the practical education today’s theoretically dominated educational system refuses to provide.

I previously wrote about my interaction with Junior Enterprise at UFMG or Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (post here), and I was prepared to see very cool kids in action, but I wasn’t prepared for the size or scope of the event, the sheer organizational skill required to put on the event, or the professionalism of the student chapters that had gathered from around the world to learn, to be inspired, and to bathe in the collective enthusiasm of their movement.

Two  highlight of the visit for me were the opportunity to meet with student leaders of the movement (picture above) and share the Big Beacon with the students and point out how the Big Beacon is aligned with Junior Enterprise.  The presentation below suggests how Junior Enterprise has its campuses surrounded and now the time has come to move (a) around, (b) inward, and (c) inside to help transform higher education to be aligned with an era that values initiative and courageous action, not passivity and timid acquiescence to the status quo.

[slideshare id=13957903&doc=three-steps-8-2012-pptx-120813084339-phpapp02]

Junior Enterprise started in France in 1967 (see here) and it still has a big footprint in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, but Brasil Junior (here) is the largest Junior Enterprise presence on the planet, and I hope to go back and learn more about this important movement.  Those interested in a model for student-centered and student-run education could do worse than to go to Europe or Brazil and check out Junior Enterprise, today.