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Creativity & Entrepreneurship Program

September 18, 2013 by Claudia Caro Sullivan

Sarabeth Berk, University of Denver
Jim Stephens, Denver School of Science and Technology
Dr. Bruce Uhrmacher, University of Denver
Linda Olson, University of Denver

The Creativity & Entrepreneurship (C&E) program focuses on learning within a connected community for an academic year. This program is a collaboration between first-year University of Denver students, staff, faculty from various  disciplines, and members of organizations outside of the university. Students live, learn, and create as a community with the final outcome being to transform their learning experiences into shared social projects. C&E concentrates on preparing students to attempt to solve, bring awareness to, or add value to a local human-centered challenge of their choice. Much activity takes place beyond the classroom walls, encouraging new spaces and perspectives on learning.

Design thinking is at the core of the program, guiding curriculum, pedagogy and partnerships. Final student projects often involve populations not typically consulted, and their problems provide the local challenges for students to tackle.  Open source software and technology, entrepreneurial mindsets, and cross-sector collaboration become the working tools of the student-driven solutions.  Products, processes, or services are the final outcomes of the students hard work, and digital and social media is utilized to engage wider input with their work, ultimately seeking to inspire change on many levels through transparency.  Students work in teams, and collaborate with faculty and expert community partners to learn key skills in platforms such as 3D printing, CAD, electronics, computer programming and other web applications.

The C&E program is unique in that students live together in the dorms and take a common seminar.  This nurtures close personal and working relationships while negotiating how to achieve their vision.  Two faculty directors are liaisons and mentors who support the students and maintain a flexible approach so that goals are not derailed by inevitable challenges. Coursework and activities are assessed regularly and changed to suit student interests. Ultimately, the Creativity and Entrepreneurship Program is a model of connected learning for the entire University.

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