Located in charming Charlottesville, the University of Virginia has always had plenty to offer its more than 20,000 students: a campus designed by Thomas Jefferson himself, an education considered on-par with the Ivy League, a well-respected sports department and a variety of majors and minors. Many of the programs offered by UVA are widely recognized and respected, yet it looks like UVA’s academic curriculum is growing: the school is now offering its students a minor in entrepreneurship.
Many schools at the university have already had informal entrepreneurship programs, although an interdisciplinary minor will allow for collaboration in-between schools. Depending on their concentration, students working to complete their minor will have the chance to take classes in the McIntire School of Commerce, the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, Curry School of Education, School of Architecture and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The minor came about when an undergraduate student approached Christine Mahoney, associate professor of public policy and politics, and asked to write his honors thesis on social entrepreneurship. While the university was lacking in opportunities for undergraduates, Mahoney began working on the entrepreneurship minor, which is finally being launched after four years of development.
A large part of the program is doing work outside of the classroom. Through the Research Hub for Collaborative Innovation, students have the chance to work on social innovation projects throughout Virginia. Liz Pyle, associate director of technology entrepreneurship in the engineering school, will be developing and supporting entrepreneurship programming that falls outside the classroom with such features as workshops, mentoring project teams, competitions and helping students connect with key entrepreneurial resources.
Many students have started to show interest in the minor since it was announced, and Mahoney claims to have been receiving emails every day from students interested in enrolling in the classes. Mahoney said that a minor in entrepreneurship works better than a major, since it’s made up of a set of tools that can be applied to any major.
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