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Columbia College offers new entrepreneurship course

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Columbia College is offering a new entrepreneurship course, “Venturing to Change the World,” taught by Damon Phillips, the Lambert Family Professor of Social Enterprise at the Business School, and Amol Sarva CC’98, a  technology entrepreneur who co-founded Virgin Mobile USA and Peek.

The weekly, three-hour seminar, a collaboration with Columbia Entrepreneurshipcomes in response to student interest. Sixty students are enrolled in the course.

The course seeks to “expose students to the intellectual foundations and practical aspects of entrepreneurship.” The syllabus is divided into three modules: thinking (Who is an entrepreneur?), creating (What are the elements of a successful startup?) and doing (How to pick a cofounder.). 

“Students have expressed interest in a course like this for several years, particularly students in CORE,” said James J. Valentini, dean of Columbia College and vice president of Undergraduate Education. “This is a course that is very important for us to offer." 

Sarva, who calls entrepreneurship “a powerful force driving progress in our civilization,” believes that the course, a first at the College, was designed in the spirit of the Core Curriculum insofar as it equips students with fundamental knowledge. “Understanding [the] dynamics [of entrepreneurship] and how to harness them and put them to work for the right purposes is really important for young people,” he says.

The College is also developing a second course to extend the entrepreneurship curriculum.

These courses build upon several other efforts that the College has undertaken in recent years, including launching the Startup Internship Program through the Center for Career Education (CCE), in collaboration with CORE, and establishing a Startup Internship Fund, also through CCE.

Last year, the College began sponsoring and funding the Undergraduate Challenge as part of Columbia Entrepreneurship’s Columbia Venture Competition (CVC). Three undergraduate student teams won a total of $50,000 to propel innovative and promising business proposals. Shriya Samavai CC’15, an art history major with a concentration in business management, and Lauren Field BC’16, an English major and art history minor, won the overall competition with their endeavor Academy Of (now Studio Lucien), a company that makes apparel inspired by works of art.

"Enthusiasm for entrepreneurship is very high right now — CORE has more than 4,000 people on its email list, including many College students," Valentini said. "I would like Columbia College students to recognize that entrepreneurship is something that any of them can do. Entrepreneurship is just an idea meeting an opportunity and turning into a successful enterprise. Columbia College students have no shortage of ideas, and the world offers no shortage of opportunities for those ideas to develop.”

To learn more about entrepreneurship at the college, read “A Culture of Creation” in the Spring 2016 issue of Columbia College Today.