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Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Classes

As a student in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship LLC, you will take three, 2-credit-hour academic courses during your first year (one course each quarter). The course meets for two hours each week for class and includes group-based projects, fun activities, workshops and exercises, design projects, along with readings and guest speakers. Through these experiences and projects, students will learn about the many challenges and rewards of innovation, the design thinking process, prototyping, tackling important community problems, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, and core business skills. Through experiences and process, students will gain exposure to the principle of the triple bottom line (people, planet and profit) while developing solutions to real world problems.

Over the course of the academic year, each quarter focuses on a specific element of building student understanding, self-efficacy, and capacity for action. Community mentors, offsite retreats, and other resources are offered to allow students to engage and find the tools they need to accomplish their goals. This program emphasizes process and perseverance, and fosters independent thinking by exposing students to disruptive innovation. Coursework evolves with student interests and adapts to the needs of the group, reflecting the nature of learning as an unpredictable series of events.

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The below schedule outlines some of the concepts covered in this year long learning community:

Fall Quarter: MIndsets and THE DESIGN THINKING PROCESS

The innovation and entrepreneurship course is not exclusively about teaching students how to be innovative and/or entrepreneurial. This course is very "hands-on". We do not use prescribed textbooks or give lecture-based instruction. Instead, innovation and entrepreneurship are concepts that must be experienced and actively engaged in, in order to gain an understanding of what these concepts look like and mean.

While all three quarters are embedded with experiential learning, the fall quarter focuses on developing an entrepreneurial mindset and discovering theories of product development and design thinking. This happens through various activities including practicing the design thinking process, reflecting on how our own personalities affect how we work in interdisciplinary teams, participating in improv, playing games, engaging in creativity exercises, amongst many other activities.

winter Quarter: CONSUMER INSIGHTS, DESIGN, AND BUSINESS ISSUES

During winter quarter, students continue gaining new skills and being exposed to many new and different facets of innovation and entrepreneurship. The course focuses on a variety of important themes including topics such as iterative design, validating consumer insights, designing minimum viable products, and starting to develop business models considering costs and income/expenses of operating a business. Throughout the Winter and Spring, we will be joined by a number of guest speakers from the local community.

spring Quarter: BUILDING OUT OUR OWN PROJECT (BUSINESS or NON-PROFIT)

Students continue to work in teams, collaborating with others to share skills, and problem solve a particular challenge that exists in the local community, either at the University of Denver or within the surrounding city, nationally, or a global problem. Using the design thinking and new product development framework, which is rooted in human-centered design methodology, and other skills from fall, winter and spring quarters, students are tasked with developing a real-world solution that adds value or makes a positive difference whether it be through a business or a non-profit organization.   

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