Minor in entrepreneurship would deliver lessons in innovation

Media Credit: Elise Apelian | Senior Staff Photographer
Jim Chung, executive director of the Office of Entrepreneurship, speaks with a student during his regular office hours for budding entrepreneurs.

A team of professors is working to create a new minor in entrepreneurship that would stress innovation outside the classroom to help students launch their own business ventures.

Faculty hope to make their proposal this semester for the program, which would support the research office’s push to encourage students to launch their own start ups.

Ayman El Tarabishy, a research professor in the management department, said the program would blend “classic entrepreneurship” with how business ventures can help social causes.

“The idea is we wanted to tap into the innovation and creativity and energy of a lot of the undergraduate students,” El Tarabishy said. “We feel that they are very energized about doing good, and doing well career-wise, and giving back to the community and the social problems that are out there.”

The GW School of Business has worked with faculty in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Elliott School of International Affairs, in addition to GW’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative, he said. The group could give its initial pitch to top administrators by this semester, he added.

John Rollins, an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship, said entrepreneurship has become “wildly popular” at GW. He pointed to participation in the Business Plan Competition, with the number of teams surging to 140.

“Students like to be in control of their own futures and destinies, which is what entrepreneurship is about,” Rollins said.

Most of the minor’s classes would likely be housed in the business school, though students would be able to take classes in all colleges, Rollins said.

The minor would likely be similar to GW’s sustainability minor, which was rolled out two years ago. Nearly 100 students have declared a minor in the field, which includes courses in geography, environmental studies and other areas.

American and Johns Hopkins universities also offer entrepreneurship minors to students within and outside their business schools.

In addition to the business school’s annual competition, the research office has increased student and faculty participation in commercializing their research and business ideas. Vice President for Research Leo Chalupa said he has tried to promote the possibility among students since he arrived at GW in 2009 and that interest has “increased 100-fold.”

“There’s a key interest in here for students. They’re not just business students, they’re not just science students, they come from all areas, from all kinds of things,” he said.

The office hired Jim Chung, executive director of the Office of Entrepreneurship, to help students and faculty figure out their options for creating their own start-up companies. About 30 students have successfully started companies, like one that sells online phone plans, Chalupa said last week.

“Even if someone doesn’t immediately launch their own startup, the skill sets learned through an entrepreneurship minor are applicable to any career where innovation is valued,” Chung said.

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