A new academic minor in entrepreneurial studies will be launched at the Colleges this fall to further expand the atmosphere of innovation and leadership learning already flourishing on campus.
“Entrepreneurship always appealed to me as a way to help students figure out how to change the world,” says Professor of Economics Tom Drennen, who serves as chair of the new program. “We want to give students the confidence to think outside the box, to generate transformative ideas and have the skills to put them into action. This past semester a student came to me with a great idea for a desalination system to provide clean, fresh water to countries where it isn’t readily available. This new academic program will empower students who have these great ideas with the tools they need to make these dreams come alive.”
By leveraging the analytical and critical thinking skills of a liberal arts education, the entrepreneurial studies curriculum will give students the conceptual understanding, practical skills and ethical structure necessary for business or civic leadership. The entrepreneurial studies curriculum will propel students as leaders and agents of change within existing organizations, and as global citizens capable of creating new nonprofit or for-profit enterprises.
With the introductory course, “Leadership,” available for students this fall, the new minor is set to graduate its first cohort in 2018. The minor requires seven courses: three core classes, an ethics class, two electives, and the senior capstone course.
“Importantly, the new minor will integrate existing programming at the Centennial Center for Leadership with the academic curriculum,” Drennen says. “The popularity and impact of Centennial Center programs like The Pitch competition and the HWS IdeaLab have proven that there’s a demand on the part of students to participate in entrepreneurial studies and the interest of faculty and alums to assist.”
The Stu Lieblein ’90 Pitch Contest is an entrepreneurially-focused competition in which students vie for a chance at winning a $10,000 grant to fund their idea. The IdeaLab is a six-week accelerator program designed to develop ideas and prepare students for The Pitch.
For entrepreneurial studies, Drennen and others are working now to develop three areas of vital growth to the new minor: incubator business space, programmatic support, and mentor participation from HWS graduates, parents and HWS Trustees.
The Fund for Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiatives, established through the Scandling Trust will enable the Colleges to further their strategic focus on entrepreneurial leadership programming. It will also fund the creation of a suite of co-curricular programs alongside the entrepreneurial studies minor that value exploration, risk, collaboration and innovation, and that prepare students for careers in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.
“This academic program is an important addition to the Colleges’ innovative leadership and entrepreneurship curriculum,” says Provost and Dean of Faculty Titilayo Ufomata. “It sets our graduates apart, not only as leaders but as leaders who can approach challenging issues with creativity and insight. We hope that the passion our faculty, students, staff and alums have brought to the Centennial Center for Leadership programming will be strengthened by the enthusiasm and support of our entire academic community.”