Lawrence’s new Innovation and Entrepreneurship Interdisciplinary Area

Lawrence students can now add Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) to their academic credentials by completing the I&E interdisciplinary area. An interdisciplinary area is similar to a minor in the way it functions, but it covers subject matter that is inherently interdisciplinary and based on the collaboration of several academic departments.

The core of the I&E interdisciplinary area is a trio of courses that aim to have students embrace an innovative, entrepreneurial mindset and to learn the basic skills of I&E. In Pursuit of Innovation is the first of the three, and a natural entry course for the I&E program. Financial Literacy then teaches the basic accounting and finance notions that students of entrepreneurship (and many others) will need. Finally, Entrepreneurial Ventures (which requires Financial Literacy as a prerequisite) is the course in which students learn to understand and to create various business models and business plans.

In addition to those three core courses, the interdisciplinary area requires two more elective courses from an approved list, and a half-course that is a practicum. The practicum is a hands-on component that can be satisfied by actively participating in an existing student venture (such as Greyfell Theatre, the Rabbit Gallery, or KidsGive), or by completing an innovative, entrepreneurial project as an independent study or internship. Elective courses include The Entrepreneurial Musician (Conservatory), Social Entrepreneurship (Government), Industrial Organization (Economics), Systems Analysis and Design (Computer Science), Optics (Physics), and Senior Seminar in Studio Art.

In keeping with the I&E program’s mission to enable students to further pursue their passion through innovative and entrepreneurial ventures, the interdisciplinary area is a new curricular opportunity that is open to all Lawrence students, from any discipline. Students will be able to let their personal interests and passions shape their I&E curriculum through their choices of electives and projects in I&E courses and the practicum.

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Entrepreneurs, Alumni Contribute to I&E Program

Alumni and other friends of Lawrence continue to play an essential role in the I&E program through generous contributions of their time, talent, and treasure. I&E courses usually feature several visitors who bring their experience and expertise to students. A few examples from the 2013-14 academic year: Irene Strohbeen ’78 talked about forecasting future technologies; Yoriko Morita ’97 and Cameron Kramlich ’02 discussed various aspects of startups ranging from finances to intellectual property concerns and technological developments; Jennifer Aspen Mason ’90 shared some of her insights from leading R&D at Mars Petcare; Alan Kopischke shared some of his experience from the non-profit theatre and music performance world; Alexander Betts talked to the Social Entrepreneurship class about the Humanitarian Innovation Project he leads at Oxford University. We are very grateful to them and the many other visitors who brought their unique perspectives to our classrooms this year. The I&E program also benefits from the work of our Advisory Committee, led by Scott Myers ’79. Other members of the committee are Dr. Christopher Anzalone '91, Dr. Thomas M. Baer ’74, Jeff Bowen ’61, Cynthia Figge '77, August Geise ’79, Dr. Lan Huang ’93, Dave Mitchell ’87, Judy Owen, Susan Palm ’80, Prof. Richard Price ’62, Abir Sen ’97, and KK Tse ’81. Their willingness to help and their commitment to sustaining the Lawrence culture while building a distinctive program are sources of strength for the I&E program.

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Launch|LU Launches

Lawrence University’s first ever idea pitch contest, named Launch|LU by the students helping to organize it, took place during reading period in spring term 2014. The event started with a general orientation Thursday evening, and culminated with each team presenting their pitch in front of a panel of judges on Saturday morning.

The event was open to all Lawrence students, and required no previous knowledge of or experience with pitch contests, business plans, or financials. Ten student teams of one to three members developed and presented pitches. On Friday, teams participated in workshops and one-on-one mentoring sessions with Nathan Litt ‘08, local software entrepreneur Jason Gegere, and Lawrence I&E faculty Gary Vaughan and Adam Galambos. The workshops focused on describing an initial idea, identifying a target market and problem, honing in on a value proposition and minimum viable product, and presentation skills.

The judging panel included Jennifer Dieter ’03, Irene Strohbeen ’78, Sunghun Cho ’11, Josh Dukelow ’02, and Cassie McDonald (representing Blue Start, Lawrence’s microphilanthropy initiative). Judges were looking for a clearly identified problem and target market, a well defined and promising solution, and a powerfully communicated, convincing pitch overall. The first prize of $500 went to Nathan Lawrence ’15 for his iPad-controlled theater lighting app, the $300 second prize went to Sam Kwon ’16 for his website to help international students learn more about liberal arts colleges, and Fanny Lau won $200 to further develop her Facebook-based market to buy and sell gently used clothing on campus into an app.

Launch|LU was sponsored by the I&E program, the nascent LU Entrepreneurship Club, Lawrence’s Blue Start initiative, and The Coleman Foundation. Encouraged by the success of the pilot, the organizers plan to make LaunchLU an annual event, so follow the preparations in early 2015 at www.launchlu.com.

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An Update on Greyfell Theatre Company - Spring 2014

From the Students:

On December 2, 2013, a group of Lawrence University Theatre and Economics students gathered with three professors to undertake a great endeavor. Throughout the course of the next two weeks, these students would start their own theatre company, write ten-minute plays, rehearse these plays, and perform a ten-minute play festival. When the very first blog post of Greyfell Theatre Company went live online on December 3rd, the company was already in full swing.  Before even setting foot in Door County, students had begun planning, proposing ideas for mission statements, company names and even submitting a few grant proposals.  A schedule was in place; there would be 3 sessions a day and an 11 a.m. company meeting, along with other responsibilities taken on through individual involvement focusing on themes like marketing, budget, education, social media/blogging, and outreach, just to name a few. 

Students began their immersive experience by composing their own 10-minute plays to be submitted for the evening that later became Thresholds: A Celebration of 10-minute Plays. In addition to their duties as company members, students quickly became parts of the production themselves, taking on roles as playwrights, actors, stage managers and directors. Many also found a mission through the art they created, Ken Goh, a senior trombone and innovation and entrepreneurship double major phrased it best, saying that “our ultimate goal has been to share a fleeting, yet powerful moment of artistic expression with others in hopes of provoking thought and emotional response.” 

Many students developed skills in areas they never thought they would approach, and came out the other side for the better, “I’m going to be completely honest and say that this adventure initially scared me to death” Jessica Teuber, a Junior Economics major explained, “Along with the business and theatre production skills that I have acquired from this experience, I have also grown as a person. I have stepped out of my comfort zone and was able to be a part of something truly amazing.”  Madeline Bunke, a senior theatre arts major, agreed wholeheartedly, “I feel like that’s what the Greyfell experience has been all about – approaching new, potentially scary tasks with an active positivity.

- Portia Turner '15 and Abi Leveille '14

What other students are saying:

Sophomore Theatre Arts major Matt Johnson said, “I took on a role that was entirely new to me and in my opinion that's exactly what this two week course was all about: doing something I've never done before. And I have to say, it's been a really rewarding decision.”  He went on to say, “I've never been a part of something before with a group of people as large as this where every single person was simply 100% in love with what they were doing and was dedicated to the work and to each other.”  Everyone was incredibly dedicated to Greyfell and to each other, making the once daunting task suddenly less scary and making the end goal realistic.

Senior German and English major Helen Titchener was especially excited about the press release: “I also really like writing press releases.  I’m working with one other person to write them and two other people to help get pictures for them.  It’s really exciting when a news outlet picks up our story from the press release I helped write!  I'm an English Major, which means I normally write essays.  Seeing a way I can apply my major to my love of theatre is super exciting.  It's also a great chance to practice another style of writing.”

Senior Theatre Arts and English double major Madeline Bunke commented, “I feel like that’s what the Greyfell experience has been all about – approaching new, potentially scary tasks with an active positivity.”

From Professor Timothy X. Troy:

It is indeed difficult to summarize the Start-up Theater experience this past December. The students accomplished so much:

  • they used the I&E model to integrate their Lawrence learning in new and deeper ways;
  • they touched the larger community with their passion and creativity;
  • they pushed each other to new heights of collaboration;
  • they founded a lasting legacy by creating the Greyfell Theatre Company.

I like to think of Greyfell Theatre as a project where students can learn to think of theatre-making as a way to encounter the community with their best selves – young, smart, searching, sensitive, and skilled. By creating a company and finding new ways to produce theatre alongside, but independent of, the Theatre Department’s regular offerings, our I&E students find ways to harness the human capital around them. They learn that the stage manager is also a playwright, or that an actor might be a natural producer.

Another lasting benefit of the Start-up Theatre program was the teaching and learning collaboration among the faculty involved. In addition to the discipline specific concepts and modes of analysis I learned from Adam Galambos, I learned new ways of conceptualizing a collective endeavor from Gary Vaughan. They tell me, that making theatre taught them a thing or two, as well. In the end, we learned new ways to communicate from each other that we’ll surely carry into disciplinary classrooms. What better evidence that an Interdisciplinary Program, like I&E, adds to the college culture in positive and lasting ways.

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An Update on The Rabbit Gallery - Spring 2014

Article by Aleisha Barton '16

The Rabbit Gallery has evolved this year with a younger team and a new outlook on bringing art into the Appleton community. Last year, the team was entirely seniors except myself, a freshman at the time. As I was the only returning member of the Rabbit Gallery, there was a need for a new creative team. A sophomore and Art History major, I took on the role of Director. Sophomore Molly B. Hopkins, a French major, stepped up as Assistant Director. Abigail Kosberg, also a sophomore and triple major in Studio Art, Art History, and German, led the curation and public relations. Adriane Melchert, a junior and Art History and French major, managed all of the gallery’s finances. Anne Leung, a sophomore and Biochemistry and Biology double major, handled the marketing and led coordination with artists. Emma Moss, a senior and Studio Art major, managed all major gallery events. Makenzie Nolan, a sophomore and Ethnic Studies major, led coordination with gallery volunteers. Junior Caitlin Wittner, a Studio Art and Theatre double major, held the position of Creative Assistant. LU faculty members Gary Vaughan and Ben Rinehart advised our team.

This year the Rabbit Gallery added a few twists to its past model. We partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Fox Valley and had a special exhibit sponsored by LU NAMI on Campus entitled Stories of Mental Health. The exhibit touched on the healing aspect of art and its connections with mental health. As May was National Mental Health month, this connection was perfectly timed. NAMI-Fox Valley had a table within the gallery with information to further inform gallery visitors. Every Saturday the gallery was open, May 16-June 8, there was a special event. On May 24, Dr. Kelly Duggan gave a talk entitled “Society’s Perception of Mental Illness vs. the Realities of Mental Illness” sponsored by LU NAMI on Campus. On May 31, the Rabbit Gallery offered a night of spoken word and poetry within the gallery space. Lastly, on June 7 the Rabbit held a silent auction, where items ranging from local Appleton business gift cards to art donated by artists were auctioned off and all proceeds from went directly to NAMI-Fox Valley.

The gallery also had a stronger focus on awareness and branding this year. The team utilized the crowd funding website, gofundme.com, to raise funds. We also raised awareness of the gallery with the introduction of tabling four weeks during dinner hours and by tabling at Ormsby Zoo Days. In addition to tabling, the Rabbit Gallery introduced a gourmet puppy chow fundraiser during weeks one and two of third term, and also distributed free Rabbit Gallery buttons.  With these merchandising and branding efforts, the logo began to infiltrate campus. In weeks five and six of the term, Rabbit Gallery merchandise was offered, consisting of t-shirts, stickers, and pint glasses. This also contributed to the awareness of the gallery, with the aid of marketing by Anne Leung, an increased use of social media, and through print exposure, such as the Lawrentian and the Appleton Post-Crescent.

The gallery took the empty store front of 502 W. College Avenue.   We renovated this space in just seven days. Efforts were completed by both Rabbit Gallery creative team members as well as a group of volunteers. By the end of the first week, the Rabbit Gallery had already welcomed 256 guests, sold $375 in art, and $735 in merchandise. Thus far, a total of 8 pieces from 4 artists were sold, with Cori Lin selling multiples of her prints Hekate and Medea. There were a total of 64 artworks in the gallery between both the Perception and Stories of Mental Health exhibits. Overall, the Rabbit Gallery had a very successful year, helping bridge the gap between Lawrence University and the Appleton community.

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I&E Courses Taught in 2013-14

In Pursuit of Innovation – I-E 100

Team projects are the centerpieces of this course, in its sixth year now. Students embrace an innovative, entrepreneurial mindset, and they learn some of the most basic tools of innovation and entrepreneurship. This year’s projects included Larry Brew, a microbrew developed and branded specifically for Lawrence, complete with a not-for-profit business model; Back-to-Work, an innovative office chair designed for better back health; and Got Buckets, an innovative enhancement of a machine that helps basketball players perfect their shots. All three of these projects produced prototypes by the end of the course. A second offering of this course was taught with a slightly different emphasis as The Art of Entrepreneurship. One of the team projects in that course led to a number of standing desks now being available to students and faculty on the Lawrence campus.

Social Entrepreneurship – GOVT 248

The team projects in Social Entrepreneurship require some of the same basic tools that other I&E courses do, but each team’s mission is to find an innovative, entrepreneurial way to solve or alleviate a social problem. Several projects were focused on Africa, such as Femm Evo (community centers to encourage and support female entrepreneurs) and Safe Water. Several students took the course as part of their preparation for their work in Sierra Leone with Professor Skran.

The Entrepreneurial Musician – MUEP 280

Most artists and musicians need to be entrepreneurial in order to create a life in art or music for themselves. Recognizing and embracing this mindset is at the core of this course.  Students developed ideas for innovative music teaching, concert series, art song research aids, and other entrepreneurial ventures. Most of all, students explored innovative and entrepreneurial ways to create one’s life in music.

 

Start-Up Theatre – THAR 255

This innovative new course in Theatre was born of Professor Timothy X. Troy’s desire to give Lawrence Theatre graduates the entrepreneurial tools they will need to succeed as theatre makers in the 21st century. The course was co-developed and co-taught by Tim Troy, Adam Galambos (I&E and Economics), and Gary Vaughan (I&E). See “Start-Up Theatre” in this newsletter for more, and see www.greyfell.org for the final product of the course.

Financial Literacy – I-E 110

This popular course introduces the basic language of finance and accounting, especially as relevant to entrepreneurial ventures (both for-profit and non-profit). The 50-60 students who enroll in one of the two sections offered each year represent a variety of majors. Some are interested in a business career after Lawrence, some contemplate entrepreneurship as an option, and some would simply like to  know the basic language of business.

Economics of Innovation and Entrepreneurship – ECON 405

Students in this advanced economics seminar study the theoretical analysis of innovation and entrepreneurship, using economic models. In addition, they explore innovation in various industries of special interest to them. See lu-ie.blogspot.com for students’ blog posts on their explorations.

And more…

Other courses offered this year also included I&E modules. Professor Rob Neilson (Art) has incorporated an entrepreneurship module into the Senior Seminar in Studio Art. As part of that module, he takes his class to the Self-Employment in the Arts conference, held annually near Chicago, IL. Professor Robert Williams (Education) introduced a new course on teaching creativity, a subject that is central to understanding innovation. Professor Doug Martin (Phyiscs) has developed assignments in his Optics course that teach (and require) students to find innovative solutions to problems that are sometimes loosely defined, much like real-world problems are (and in contrast to conventional textbook-problems). Professor Kurt Krebsbach (Computer Science) has his students in Systems Analysis and Design develop, prototype, and sell a solution to a specific problem in a mock consulting project.  There are, of course, many other courses at Lawrence that encourage innovative thinking in a variety of ways, and we hope that students who take I&E courses will be even more attuned to innovation in their other coursework and outside classes as well.

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