At Creighton, the call to serve and to follow the Jesuit tradition “to educate the whole person and leave the world a better place” is part of being a student from day one. As of this year, the College of Business is offering a new social entrepreneurship major that carries out this mission.
Dr. Anne York, associate professor and director of the entrepreneurship programs, had the idea when she first came to Creighton.
“I tried to think of how Creighton could differentiate our entrepreneurship programs by drawing on the university’s Jesuit mission and our strong health science and physical science programs,” she said.
Through the help of other faculty members inside and outside the College of Business, the program was approved in the fall of 2009.
When York first arrived, the College of Business offered a general entrepreneurship program, but she hoped to expand the program. In 2007, Creighton launched the bioscience entrepreneurship program specifically for pre-med students. The program ran for three years with the help of a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Innovation Program. This semester is the first time it is running without grant money. Since its launch, the program has had between 12 and 15 students each year, and while it is not yet a major or minor, students who complete the program receive a certificate of completion.
Once the bioscience entrepreneurship program was running, York turned to the social aspect of entrepreneurship. She worked with Laura Mizaur, the instructor of strategy and entrepreneurship, and Taylor Keen, a marketing and management instructor, to propose the social entrepreneurship program.
“It is their vision for the program that has made it the really creative, vibrant program we have now,” York said of Mizaur and Keen.
Dr. Peter Gallo, who specializes in social entrepreneurship and sustainability, joined the Business faculty this year and will play a major role in implementing the social entrepreneurship program with Mizaur and Keen.
“Professors here who aren’t in our program were behind the mission, and that was a great resource that we had,” Gallo said. “We were lucky here that other professors approved of what we were doing.”
Students were able to enter the major program last spring, and the minor program became available this fall.
Gallo believes that students who might not want to pursue a business degree can benefit from a small amount of entrepreneurship training.
“We feel that it plays off of the strengths and interests of the overall student body,” Gallo said. “Creighton has a social mission, and many of our students have volunteer experience. We can teach them to use business strategies to accomplish the social goals that they are interested in.”
The social entrepreneurship major is geared toward students who wish to use business to implement social change. The major brochure describes a social entrepreneur as someone who “assesses success in terms of the impact he or she has on society in addition to profit.”
While the major is only open to Business students, the social entrepreneurship minor is open to anyone. This will enable Arts & Sciences students to pursue a business minor without having to complete the numerous prerequisites of the College of Business.
Through the program, along with the bioscience entrepreneurship program, the College of Business is hoping to help students stand out once they graduate and look for jobs. Gallo said there are not many other universities that allow non-business students to pursue business minors.
“It’s a pretty unique program,” Gallo said. “Having the extra education and the minor will give [students] an edge.”
In order to graduate with a minor in social entrepreneurship, students must complete two social entrepreneurship courses and an internship along with three business electives.
“We hope that this will be a set of classes that will be very attractive to students in terms of having a tool set so they will be able to form non-profits or businesses with a social mission,” Keen said.
Students can gain business knowledge that can benefit non-profit organizations through for-profit techniques Gallo said.
“The not-for-profit business model can only go so far,” he said. “What is exciting about teaching these classes is that [students] get exposed to different, creative, nontraditional business models to show them that business doesn’t always have to be the same,” Gallo said.
The program will benefit students upon entering the working world and will help to improve society.
Keen said he believes the program will carry out what Creighton and the College of Business stand for.
“It is helping meet the overall mission of the College of Business, and it is guided by our Jesuit leaders and promotes justice,” he said. “We are trying to utilize our curriculum to help nurture the entrepreneurial spirit, and in the process, to create leaders who are going to help change the world.”
For more information about the social entrepreneurship major or minor, the College of Business will have a booth set up at the Major/Minor Fair on Nov. 4.