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Entrepreneurship and innovation minor to create ‘agents of change’

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Rebecca Valli

The Cornell SC Johnson College of Business has launched a new minor in entrepreneurship and innovation open to undergraduates majoring in any field at any college or school at Cornell.

The minor leverages the collective strength of the many entrepreneurship courses and programs offered throughout campus. And it responds to an increasing demand from students and employers for entrepreneurial thinking and skills.

The minor’s mission is to prepare Cornell students to be agents of change in careers that require the application of entrepreneurial thinking and action to economic and social challenges.

“We use the Harvard scholar Howard Stevenson’s classic definition of entrepreneurship: ‘the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.’ You think about what opportunities are out there, and then go get whatever skills and resources you need to seize that opportunity,” said Susan Fleming, M.S. ’08, Ph.D. ’10, faculty director of the minor.

Seniors graduating at the end of the fall 2018 semester can apply now to graduate with the minor. Sophomores and juniors are also eligible to enroll in the minor.

Underlying the minor, which is housed at the School of Hotel Administration, is the premise that the value of entrepreneurship education is to create an innovative, creative mindset and to add a set of entrepreneurial tools and experiences that will prepare students across Cornell as citizens and professionals.

Students are not required to have their own business concept, and they don’t necessarily have to aspire to found a company, Fleming said.

“It’s fine if creating their own startup is of interest to them,” she said. “But the real goal here is to allow any undergraduate student to get access to entrepreneurship and innovation in a way that could help them learn additional skills that complement what they’re learning in their majors, market themselves for jobs as they go out into the workforce, and navigate their careers.”

The minor would be useful to students who want to go on to have careers in startups or large innovative firms, in initiatives to address social and environmental issues, and in fields as broad as consulting, finance, accounting, law and policy, she added said.

“Our mission is to create agents of change with this minor,” Fleming said. “We want students who are going to go out and make the world a better place.”

Students minoring in entrepreneurship and innovation will be required to complete 17 credits in courses related to entrepreneurship and innovation across the university. Students must first take courses on the foundational perspectives of entrepreneurship and on teams and people, because “we believe that teams and working with others is part and parcel of entrepreneurship,” Fleming said. In “entrepreneurship in practice” courses, students will work in teams to explore an opportunity, do customer development, and create a business as well as learn how to sell their ideas orally and in writing.

Last, students will take nine credits, chosen from 50 to 60 classes, of “guided exploration.” These allow students to explore areas of entrepreneurship that are of particular interest to them.

The administration anticipates 100 to 200 students will enroll in the minor in the first year, growing eventually to 300.

For students who are interested, information sessions will be held in Statler Hall:

  • February 26, 5-6 p.m., Room 291;
  • March 13, 5-6 p.m., Room 291; and
  • March 26, 4-5 p.m., Room 391.

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