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    STUDIA NEGOTIA - Issue no. 2 / 2017  

Authors:  PAUL M. LANE.

Published Online: 2017-06-30
Published Print: 2017-06-30


This is a case study, of the development of UNAN-Managua as an innovative Nicaraguan University. The history 2004-2017 is of the developmental path of this leading educational institution. It focuses on the importance of interdisciplinary development of pedagogy across the universities’ multiple campuses, farms, facilities and institutes. It starts simple and ends with a major program to change the university using Innovation and Design Thinking. The nexus of knowledge and innovative processes are opening this university to compete in the world marketplace. Students have the chance to learn from faculty who have experienced innovative thinking and innovative pedagogy. Starting was not easy, as those coming from the United States were educated in that very individualistic culture. It took time to understand, empathize, and design programs that work within the collectivistic culture, and within the social and economic structures of the country. Remembering that Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, it has taken effort to bring a university of 40,000-plus students into the thinking methods of the 21st century. Much is built around the models of Design Thinking and the Business Model Canvass, as these are easily accessible in multiple languages. UNAN Managua is the largest University in Nicaragua with a campus in the capital city, four regional autonomous campuses, an extensive program in the rural farming areas (UNICAM), many institutes and areas of investigation. Faculty come from all campuses, all disciplines, ages, and ranks to engage in learning the innovative approaches to problem solving. Working across the disciplines, they meet each other, learn from each other, help each other, and think about how to change the classes that they teach. Working across the campuses brings a new strength and vibrancy to the university. Today, students from farms in the most rural areas of this poor country sit with freshly degreed faculty members learning one from the other. Today, faculty departments work together to bring innovative thinking into a variety of subject matters. They join to create events to encourage their students to be innovative. Today, the Rectora envisions the innovative UNAN or UNAN INOVA, only a dream a few years ago. This is the history of how innovative thinking, application and the challenge of business professionals can help a faculty to create a university for the 21st century. This is the thinking behind a transformation from once-guarded Sandinista institutions to becoming an innovation leader on the National Stage of Nicaragua and the world stage as a player in international competitions. Under the Rectora, the university has done all this without losing sight of including everyone in the educational revolution. Most recently, they placed second in the Wege International competition with Kendall College. This is a case of being entrepreneurial in the Drucker sense of being a change agent. The leadership defined the problem, sought the knowledge for change for its faculty, and is now in the process of making a difference in Nicaragua. This is a story from which other universities can learn.

Keywords: design thinking, entrepreneurial, innovation, interdisciplinary, knowledge
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