Why This School Launched A Minor In Creativity

Creativity is a skill many try to harness. Be it marketing, engineering, advertising, or tech, employers value creativity. That’s one reason the School of Business at George Washington University recently announced they will launch a new minor in creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship this coming fall that will be available to business majors and non-business students alike.

The new minor will be headed by business professor and Director of the Center of Entrepreneurial Excellence Dr. George T. Solomon and Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy, who developed the university’s first Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Creativity courses.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for students to experience creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship, regardless of their major,” Solomon says. “Whether you’re a teacher, musician, or an engineer, everyone has the capacity to be all this, we’re providing the environment to stimulate this.”

The idea for the new minor first came about in 2014, when the business professors realized that an entrepreneurship program would help prepare students outside the Innovation and Entrepreneurship concentration to launch their own businesses. Speaking to the GW Hatchet, Dr. El Tarabishy said then that the aim was to “tap into the innovation and creativity and energy of a lot of the undergraduate students.”

George Solomon. Courtesy photo

SCHOOL EXPECTS UP TO 30 STUDENTS TO ENROLL IN MINOR THIS FALL

As part of the minor, all sophomore students will attend a core class in entrepreneurship, a new venture initiation, and lean startup training taught by El Tarabishy when they enter their junior year. They are also expected to choose from a range of electives to build up the skillset and portfolio they envision they’ll need in future. From e-Entrepreneurship, Small Business Management, and Business Analytics to Environmental Sustainability, Interactive Web Design, and Leadership and Performance, students can package their entrepreneurship education to prepare them for almost any business role.

“We hope to attract students with an interest in being more creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial,” Solomon says. “They may decide to start a business anytime, maybe 10 years down the road, and they’ll have the skills and knowledge to make it successful.”

Solomon says that he expects about 20 to 30 students to enroll for the minor this fall when it launches, but if the university’s annual Business Plan Competition and New Venture Competition are any indicators of interest in entrepreneurship, registration is likely to increase quickly. Just recently, over 140 teams of students participated in the university’s Business Plan Competition.

STUDENTS ALSO ENCOURAGED TO JOIN STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS

Creativity and entrepreneurship is something many students are already capitalizing on at George Washington. This past March, junior year business student Danya Sherman, was honored as a 2018 Mother of Invention recipient by Women in the World and Toyota, for her invention, a normal-looking napkin that changes color when it comes in contact with a drink that has been laced. She was also awarded a $50,000 grant from Toyota to support the next stage of growth for her company.

“Organizations, both profit and nonprofit, are seeking individuals who are capable of generating innovative and creative solutions to deal with the numerous issues affecting the viability of their organizations,” Solomon said to the GW Hatchet.

To supplement their experience, students in the creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship minor are also encouraged to join related student organizations such as The Launchpad, where students meet weekly in small teams to bring a product or company from business brainstorming and market research to securing financial support and mentors.

The George Washington School of Business also launched a minor in sustainability in 2012, with classes taught by professors in the schools including Arts & Sciences, Public Health, and Engineering and Applied Sciences. After learning about sustainable practices, climate change and policy, and analyzing cities that practice sustainability, all minors in this program also engage in service, research, internship, or study abroad during their junior or senior year. By 2014, enrollment in the minor had tripled to almost 100.

‘WE’RE PROVIDING THEM WITH THE TOOLS TO CREATE NEW BUSINESSES AND HELP OTHER BUSINESSES’

At the University of Maine, non-business school students can also minor in Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, whether their major is in science, arts, engineering, education, or humanities. Similar to George Washington, students take core classes in entrepreneurship, venture creation, and creative strategies, before going on to personalize their list of electives from classes such as product development, market opportunity analysis, tourism entrepreneurship, and lean methods & systems. Over at the University of Connecticut, students can also sign up to minor in Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. They begin by taking core classes in opportunity generation and assessment, creativity and enhancing innovation, and business administration, before choosing to do electives in areas including motion graphics, intellectual property law, entrepreneurial marketing, playwriting, and even puppetry.

But at George Washington’s School of Business, Solomon says that being located just minutes from the White House gives their program an edge. “We differentiate by tying in our program to the political process and public policy, something we can do because we’re so close to everything that’s happening,” he says. “We help our students look at datasets, how they get data, and how to put a plan together. We’re providing them with the tools to create new businesses and help other businesses.”

While some of these classes may seem to have nothing to do with the entrepreneurial spirit, Gayle Wald, an English professor at George Washington University who will be teaching U.S. Popular Music and Culture, one of the electives available to students in the new minor program, says otherwise. She told the GW Hatchet that students in her class will be exposed to the ways music and tech is marketed, and that developing knowledge in the humanities help students see entrepreneurship and marketing in a different way than they do in business classes.

“We went to each school and presented our vision for this program, and asked them which courses would benefit the program, that’s why it took so long to get done,” Solomon says. “We’ll review the courses every year and hope to make it better as we go along.”

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