The undergraduate and graduate courses below are offered by the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative. Many other courses related to innovation and entrepreneurship are offered throughout Duke. Click here for more information on the courses available.

Undergraduate Courses

Building Global Audiences (I&E 250)

Marketing and publicity are so important to audience building that, 20 years ago, expanding beyond local audiences usually couldn’t be accomplished without huge advertising budgets. However, thanks to the Internet, you can build a global audience from your dorm room. This class explores how. You’ll learn about social media, search engine optimization, virality, content marketing, growth hacking, and other digital audience building strategies. They’re difficult to learn and time consuming to execute, so expect to struggle. We’ll learn as much from our failures as we will from our successes as we discover what it takes to cultivate global awareness for an idea without ever leaving Durham.

Social Innovation (I&E 261)

This course provides an overview of social innovation. It will begin by assessing problems with current mental and organizational models for addressing social needs and the resulting desire for, and urgency of, innovative approaches. The course develops a theory of innovation and describes examples of persons and organizations demonstrating innovative approaches. We also look at how to innovate effectively and the attributes and skills that cultivate such innovation, emphasizing the importance of systemic thinking, cross sector collaboration, and creative engagement. The course will combine lectures with discussion groups that consider issues such as education, health, children, poverty, and the environment. The course also will seek to provide students with a framework and tools for imagining their own engagement in social innovation.

Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise (I&E 271A)

In this course, students will develop an understanding of the resources, skills, and planning required to launch a new product or service. Through lectures, case studies and visiting talks, the course addresses critical factors such as: ideation, competition and competitive advantage, financing requirements, corporate culture, product positioning, customer identification, and market segmentation.

Basics of Technology & Commercialization (I&E 281)

This course covers assessment, development, and translation for a range of technical areas, such as pharmaceuticals, computer science, energy, and medical devices. The course is organized around the basic elements of taking technology from conception to development and commercialization, including understanding technology, developing a plan to get to market, and assessing the potential market. The course combines lecture, case assignments, and discussion of real technology development opportunities.

Learning to Fail (I&E 290.01)

In academic learning environments, students are taught to fear failure. Failing will ruin your GPA, prevent you from getting into a good college, cause trouble with parents, make you an outcast among your peers, and might even get you expelled. These kinds of negative associations with failure become so ingrained in school that most people spend their lives afraid of failing.
Conversely, many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs failed multiple times on their paths toward success. The underlying question of this class is to wonder if failing is really as antithetical to learning as we’ve been taught to believe. We’re going to try to answer the question in two ways. First, we’re going to examine examples of some of history’s greatest failures and see how they impacted future decisions.
Second, we’re going to attempt a series of ambitious entrepreneurial tasks where the goal will be nearly impossible to achieve. But accomplishing the tasks isn’t how we’ll judge success. Instead, when good entrepreneurs fail, they learn from their mistakes in order to have a better chance of succeeding in future attempts. So we’ll judge success in our class not by how poorly we did, but by how well prepared we are to try again.

Social Marketing for Entrepreneurs (I&E 290.02)

If you’re like the typical millennial, you spend hundreds of hours every month on sites like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, but you’ve never paid a penny for any of the services. Have you ever wondered how they could be free? In the web marketing industry, we have a saying for this seeming paradox: “If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer… you’re the product.” In other words, even though you might think of yourself as a valued user within your preferred social community, in reality, you’re actually the product the company is selling. In Social Marketing for Entrepreneurs, we’ll explore the other side of social media that most people never see: the customer side. Instead of using social media for entertainment, we’ll learn about using social media to market our products, companies, ideas, and even ourselves.
Through a variety of readings, case studies, speakers, and real-world experiments, we’ll spend the semester learning how to transform social media from a tool for entertainment into a tool for promotion, brand building, and revenue generation.

Open Knowledge and Education Innovation (I&E 290.03)

Twenty-first century technology has made it easier than ever to find and produce “open” knowledge: Wikipedia promises free access to the sum of all the world’s knowledge with the tap of a finger, a Google search yields troves of information, instructional channels abound on YouTube, and organizations like Khan Academy offer course materials free to anyone living anywhere. Why, then, is so much of the knowledge we learn in traditional academic settings “closed”? Who stands to win if we keep knowledge locked behind journal subscription paywalls, restricted by narrow copyright, and regulated by a small group of experts in a field? Who stands to lose under this model of education? Examining open knowledge within political, legal, and ethical contexts, in this course we will consider how education innovation and emergent models of self-organized learning can empower students to become entrepreneurs and agents of their own education and life pathways. Working together as a hands-on, participatory learning lab, we will research and conduct interviews with open knowledge and education innovation changemakers across academic disciplines and industry. We will publish our research as open education resources (multimedia case studies, articles, and learning modules) licensed under Creative Commons and free to use and remix by students, educators, and citizens around the world.

Strategies for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E 352)

This course covers the component elements of developing the skills needed to launch a venture. Starting at the point of need identification, the course covers lean methodology; innovation and entrepreneurship strategy; creating the needed financing and resource structures; effectively marketing/ communicating the innovation and its associated benefits; leading, managing, and working effectively within teams; creating a positive and ethical work culture; and evaluating success. Materials for class discussion are case studies and readings.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship Capstone (I&E 499)

In this course, students bring together interdisciplinary insights from their work throughout the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate program to shed light on innovation and entrepreneurship and the roles they play in addressing the world’s most pressing problems. The class will incorporate rich discussion, selected readings, and guest speakers addressing topics in innovation and entrepreneurship. Students will focus on applying what they have learned through the certificate curriculum to develop an innovation and entrepreneurship capstone project.

Graduate Courses

Social Innovation Practicum (I&E 590)

In the Social Innovation Practicum, students will learn about and support the design, development, assessment and scaling up of innovative, sustainable approaches to addressing critical social and environmental problems in Durham and around the world. Working in multidisciplinary teams, students will gather and analyze data, develop recommendations, formulate implementation plans, and provide other support to clients that may include social entrepreneurs, funders, public sector innovators and policy makers, corporate social impact managers and others. Participating students will have increased capacity for effective and thoughtful entrepreneurial leadership throughout their careers.

Research and Technology Translation (I&E 710)

This course focuses primarily on the innovative and entrepreneurship aspects of translating research and technology developments out of the lab and research center, as well as launching new products or starting new companies. The dark reality is that most ventures fail. Sometimes there is not much you can do to prevent failure; however, you can reduce the chance of failure by learning from others’ experience and your own experience. This course leverages the experiences of others who have failed and succeeded so you can increase your chances of success. This course will cover many topics typically taught in technical leadership programs and graduate professional programs. You can think of it as “The Art of Start and the Science of Triumph!”

Biodesign (I&E 720)

The Biodesign course is an experiential program with a focus on learning a proven, project-based approach to identifying health needs and developing innovative diagnostics, devices, or other health technologies to address them. The course is divided into two sections and each section requires extensive team interaction and the direct application of skills in the finding and solving of problems identified by those going through the class. The first section focuses on the need and is composed of four modules – the team, needs finding, needs ranking, and need description/specification. The second section focuses on the solution and is composed of three modules – brainstorm, mind map, and solution development/pitch.

For more information or to obtain a permission number, please contact

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