New minor to offer entrepreneurial skills geared toward non-business majors

Media Credit: File photo by Kevin Chen | Contributing Photo Editor

The School of Business will offer a minor in creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in the fall semester.

Undergraduate students will be able to hone their interests in enterprising skills and creativity with a new minor next semester.

The School of Business will offer a minor in creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in the fall that requires students to take two general business classes and three to four electives in topics like economics, creative writing, social justice and web design. Faculty said the minor will help students who aren’t business majors develop a well-rounded set of skills to pursue their own business ventures.

Two professors in the business school – George Solomon, a professor of management and co-founder and director for the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, and Ayman El Tarabishy, a teaching professor of management – started working on the minor in 2014 to encourage students to launch their own startups and will now lead the program.

Soloman said the 18-credit minor, which is available to all undergraduate students, is specifically designed for non-business students. He said the program will give students the opportunity to learn broadly about entrepreneurship while “being exposed to a wide spectrum of experiences and theories” that could help them launch businesses in the future.

He said he expects about 20 students to initially sign up for the minor.

“Organizations, both profit and non-profit, are seeking individuals who are capable of generating innovative and creative solutions to deal with the numerous issues affecting the viability of their organization,” Soloman said in an email.

The minor’s application also lists several suggested student organizations – like GW Women in Business, Lemonade Day DC and the Multicultural Business Student Association – for students to consider joining as they pursue the entrepreneurship minor.

“Because learning is not confined to only the classroom, our hope is to integrate theory and practice through simulation, experiential exercises and interacting with the local community,” Solomon said.

Lex McCusker, the director of the GW New Venture Competition, an innovation contest where students launch businesses, said he helped design the minor and that the courses could help students develop business ideas because the program will combine classes from departments across campus with basic business courses. Officials have sought to encourage students to develop their own start-ups in recent years, launching new grant programs for student-led projects.

“They’ve allowed students to take courses all across campus – whether it’s in engineering, or Corcoran, in the Elliott School or the School of Public Health – to craft it to provide subject-matter skills that are relevant to the areas and combine those with the fundamental business skills that the School of Business provides,” he said. “That’s really the perfect model for entrepreneurship.”

McCusker said the minor makes classes involving entrepreneurship, innovation and business skills more accessible to all students, which can prove lucrative to students in their post-graduation life.

“You can learn the stuff in the classrooms and apply it in the programs of our office,” he said. “That creates a great student experience and that’s how you really learn.”

Peter LaPuma, a professor of environmental and occupational health who teaches an Introduction to Sustainability course, one of the electives offered in the new minor, said the minor could make students more informed about businesses’ environmental and social responsibilities. Consumers – especially millennials – tend to favor companies that are socially and environmentally responsible, he said.

“What a lot of companies are finding is that not only are they helping their own brand, but you’re also saving money and your cost of business goes down,” he said.

Students will be more competitive in their future businesses and start-ups once they are more informed about sustainable practices, LaPuma added.

“It’s much more than just a fad anymore,” he said. “Successful companies in the future are going to be the ones who embrace principles of sustainability.”

Gayle Wald, a professor of English who teaches the U.S. Popular Music and Culture course, another elective offered in the minor program, said knowledge of the humanities allows students to learn about entrepreneurship and marketing in a different context than businesses classes. In her course, students will learn about the ways music and up-and-coming technology is marketed in the industry, she said.

Humanities courses on Psychology of Creativity and Introduction to Creative Writing will also count as program electives.

“There are so many other things that students have to learn when completing business degrees. They don’t get a lot of opportunities to think about those things critically and to think about them in a historical context,” Wald said.

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