Innovation and entrepreneurship have shown explosive growth across the country and around the world; today, virtually all of the world’s leading institutions, including Duke, are engaged in innovation and entrepreneurship through educational programs and translational resources. In order to meet increased demand for courses and co-curricular education, I&E has focused effort on scaling educational programming grounded in our unique approach that considers every phase of innovation and incorporates the foundational aspects of social impact, open design, and ethics. At its core, our approach helps students develop an entrepreneurial mindset rooted in a bias toward action, empathy and the ability to pivot with courage and confidence. Students gain the necessary skills to solve pressing problems by developing a deep understanding of the people they are serving and having a vested interest in the outcome for these people to maximize impact.
With I&E’s Undergraduate Certificate, students of all majors and backgrounds have the opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial mindset, equipping them to one day solve the world’s most pressing problems with creativity, skill, and resilience. This experiential program provides a foundation in innovation, ideation, design, business fundamentals, and more. Multiple pathways offer tailored curricula so students can align the Certificate with their interests and goals, learning to explore complex problems and develop innovative solutions.
In 2020, we worked to meet the ever-increasing appetite for this program, adding new courses and experiential projects ranging from internships, to research positions, to civic engagement initiatives, to entrepreneurial ventures. With over 320 students, this program is the second largest certificate program for undergraduates at Duke with demographics that reflect the undergraduate student demographic. In the graduating class of 2020, 77 students from a wide variety of major programs earned this credential.
Hands-on experiences are core to our educational approach and are built into many of our courses and programs. The Ron and Carrie Ludwig Duke in Silicon Valley Program gives undergraduate students an intensive experience in the creation of new ventures, both commercial and social. Over the course of a month, students gain an understanding of the resources, skills, and planning required to launch a new product or service, as well as immersing themselves in the Silicon Valley culture and building a network of support.
The DukeEngage-Detroit program immerses emerging young undergraduate Duke change-makers with seasoned social entrepreneurs tackling some of the city’s greatest challenges in a variety of domains, including economic development, social enterprise, food security, environmental sustainability, and health. Though the pandemic made a traditional version of this program impossible during the summer of 2020, students were able to take advantage of virtual internships with community partners in Detroit.
Graduate & Professional Offerings
In addition to serving undergraduates with interdisciplinary, experiential education, I&E also has also developed robust offerings for graduate and professional students that help prepare them for a wide variety of career options. During the 2019 – 2020 academic year, I&E launched the Innovate Duke family of experiential courses open to advanced undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from any school and degree program across Duke. These courses, such as New Ventures Clinic: Healthcare, Social Innovation Practicum, and Mission Driven Startups, provide students an opportunity to work on real-world projects. Over 200 students participated in these courses last academic year, with representation from every graduate and professional school across the University.
Building off the success of the Innovate Duke courses, the I&E Graduate & Professional Certificate was approved by the Graduate School for launch in Fall 2020. This certificate is the first to be open to all graduate and professional students across Duke. With this program, students receive an experiential education in an interdisciplinary and diverse environment, learning to solve pressing problems and prepare for a wide range of career options.
In this program, which comes with no associated tuition increases or costs and can be completed in one year, students studying engineering, business, medicine, and beyond work together on real projects at various stages—from discovery, to development, to delivery. New approaches for research, management, teaching, and leadership equip students to one day start a company, commercialize a technology, continue in academia, own a practice, or excel in industry—and differentiate themselves in a crowded job market.