Lawrence University offers new major in entrepreneurship

Students at Lawrence University in Appleton will have an exciting new major to choose from this fall: Business and Entrepreneurship. Responding to the popularity of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) program, Lawrence will maintain its interdisciplinary approach to the subject with additional focus on core business skills-building.

“We have taken a liberal arts mindset to building this major, emphasizing the importance of multiple perspectives and big-picture thinking,” said Adam Galambos, the Dwight and Marjorie Peterson Professor of Innovation and associate professor of economics. “Students will have an opportunity to learn the foundational skills in accounting, marketing, financial management, and entrepreneurship, and connect these to the broader roles of business in society.” 

The university plans to add two new faculty members, along with an expansion of course offerings in four focused areas of study: entrepreneurship, arts entrepreneurship, business analytics, and natural resources and energy management.

Claudena Skran is professor of government and the Edwin and Ruth West Professor of Economics and Social Science, and Chair of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship program.

“Entrepreneurship is really about innovation and creativity, problem solving, trying to find solutions to business problems or social problems,” Skran said. “We have a broad definition of entrepreneurship that includes for profit businesses but also nonprofit businesses or social enterprises.” 

Skran said the I&E program has been a popular selection for students of color, particularly for first-generation students.

“Students from a first-generation background may be concerned about their job prospects when they leave college,” Skran said. “If they are an English, religious studies or music major, the idea of having something else along with that is attractive and we expect that to continue.”

Added Skran: “What we’re going to add is more robust business administration and management courses that help in the ongoing operations of a business enterprise.”

Attracting more women and expanding the mentoring program are other goals Skran hopes to achieve.The program will also emphasize internships, practicums, study abroad, and international field experience.

“We want all the students to be exposed to diverse role models so everybody in the program will see themselves in the group of mentors that come to talk about their careers and what they do in the business or nonprofit sector,” Skran said.

Skran has been teaching social entrepreneurship, with plans to continue. New courses include the history of black business in 20th-century America, models of strategy and leadership, and workplace diversity and equity. 

Sigma Colon, an assistant professor of environmental and ethnic studies, along with Jesús Smith, assistant professor of ethnic studies, are co-developing the workplace diversity and equity course. One element of study will look at the importance of entrepreneurship and the creation of small businesses for communities of color. 

“Historically, immigrant groups and minorities who didn’t necessarily have access to large amounts of capital, or who faced discrimination in more established industries, have a long history of creating their own businesses,” Colon said. 

The course will also give students opportunities to learn how diversity, equity and inclusion functions in the workplace through case studies as well as hands-on experiences.

“We’re really excited to incorporate an experiential component to the course,” Colon said.

The curriculum came together from a working group of faculty from Economics, I&E, Government, the Conservatory of Music, Psychology, Religious Studies, Global Studies, and Theatre Arts. 

“With encouragement from President Laurie Carter, they set out to craft an interdisciplinary business major that would build on the gains already made through I&E,” according to a press release. “The business major will be integrated into a Lawrence education, including the taking of First-Year Studies and the general education requirements that afford students an overview of diversity and provide them with a global context. From there, the architects of the major set out to build a program that would blend needed business knowledge and skills with an emphasis on working toward the greater good.”