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Auburn University’s recently redesigned entrepreneurship minor, offered by the Harbert College of Business, has been selected as a finalist for an Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education Award, presented annually by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE).
USASBE—an inclusive community of educators, researchers, and entrepreneurs advancing entrepreneurship education through bold teaching, scholarship, and practice—gives this award to outstanding programs that have been in existence for three years or less.
“We are extremely grateful for this national recognition,” said Chris Reutzel, chair of the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship. “Although we have offered a comprehensive entrepreneurship program for decades, its courses were often available only to students majoring in a business discipline because of academic barriers like course prerequisites. So, historically, only a handful of non-business students added the entrepreneurship minor. Since we redesigned and relaunched it in 2020, though, we’ve seen over 500 percent growth in our non-business student enrollment in the minor.”
All students adding the entrepreneurship minor take five classes. Two are required and the other three are electives that students can choose from entrepreneurship classes and/or approved courses from other Colleges on campus.
“Auburn students now have a lot of flexibility in choosing their entrepreneurship electives,” said Josh Sahib, director of the Lowder Center for Family Business and Entrepreneurship. “In redesigning the minor, we intentionally used a subject matter expert perspective. So, for example, mathematics and biology students can now take more advanced courses in their majors as entrepreneurship electives. This enhances their technical knowledge and pairs well with our business students’ accounting, finance, marketing, and other skills when we team them up to develop new business ideas.”
“Students also can choose electives focused specifically on entrepreneurship topics,” added Jim Corman, who teaches several entrepreneurship courses in the minor. “These include classes about funding startups, growing a business, and buying a franchise. In addition, they can earn internship credit toward the minor by working for a company or launching their own startup while in school.”
Along with receiving training and mentorship in the classroom, students can participate in multiple co-curricular activities including on- and off-campus pitch and business idea competitions.
“We have always had students from across campus involved in our annual competitions,” said Lou Bifano, director of the New Venture Accelerator. “But, the redesigned minor now makes it easier for non-business students to take classes that sharpen their entrepreneurship knowledge and skills.”
Auburn is a finalist in the Model Emerging Entrepreneurship Program category. Finalists will make a presentation at USASBE’s annual conference and winners will be announced on January 21, 2023.
"We know how much hard work, passion and commitment goes into developing world-class entrepreneurship programs. This year's finalists have pushed the envelope even further," said Thomas Pittz, USASBE board chair.
Founded in 1981, the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) is an inclusive community of educators, researchers, and entrepreneurs advancing entrepreneurship education through bold teaching, scholarship, and practice. Membership is open to all, as is attendance at USASBE’s hallmark annual conference. USASBE also publishes a peer-reviewed academic journal, Entrepreneurship Education & Pedagogy, and develops a variety of helpful resources and professional development opportunities for entrepreneurship educators as they create a positive impact. For more information, visit USASBE.org or contact USASBE CEO Julienne Shields at firstname.lastname@example.org.