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Business, entrepreneurship pillars of new Lawrence University major

Emphasis placed on importance of multiple perspectives and big-picture thinking

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December 1, 2022

APPLETON – As a new generation of business professionals begins to enter the workforce, a local university said it is doing what it can to develop future-ready talent.

Starting fall 2023, Lawrence University – a private liberal arts college and conservatory of music located in Appleton – will offer a new business and entrepreneurship major built through the lens of the liberal arts with a focus on preparing future innovators.

“We have taken a liberal arts mindset to building this major, emphasizing the importance of multiple perspectives and big-picture thinking,” Adam Galambos, the Dwight and Marjorie Peterson professor of innovation and associate professor of economics, said. 

Strong foundation
Building upon the college’s established innovation and entrepreneurship program, Galambos said the new major will allow students to meld their interests with the business world.

He said the university introduced the business and entrepreneurship major so students could choose the Lawrence experience and also pursue their interests in business.

“We’ve been hearing from students that they wanted something more, like a business major in the context of a liberal arts education,” he said.

Claudena Skran – professor of government, the Edwin & Ruth West professor of economics and social science at Lawrence University and chair of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship program – said the program, which was launched in 2014, created a path for students to explore facets of business against the backdrop of a number of disciplines.

And though the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program was not officially a business program, Skran said it grew in popularity, and it became evident students wanted more.

She said the program currently has about 50 students enrolled.

“For me, that is a baseline of future interest,” Skran said. “These students were seeking a broad liberal arts background, which emphasizes the essential skills demanded of a dynamic business environment, as well as helping students prepare for careers in marketing, human resources, finance or nonprofit management.”
Breathing potential into life
The road to the new major announcement, Skran said, started about a year ago when seven faculty members from a variety of departments worked together to design a major that would provide the best of both worlds – a liberal arts education and a solid grounding in business fundamentals.

“In creating the business and entrepreneurship major, we hope to best prepare them to achieve their goals,” she said. 

Galambos said the university has taken a liberal arts mindset in building the major, one that emphasizes the importance of multiple perspectives and big-picture thinking.?

“Students will have an opportunity to learn the foundational skills in accounting, marketing, financial management and entrepreneurship, and connect these to the broader roles of business in society,” he said.

According to Galambos, the new major will build on Lawrence’s liberal arts curriculum and introduce new courses that are crucial to business across a variety of disciplines – social sciences, humanities and natural sciences, as well as arts and music.

He said the new major is designed to take any one of four emphases: an entrepreneurship emphasis, arts entrepreneurship emphasis, business analytics emphasis and natural resources and energy management emphasis.

“We are also introducing core courses in areas like accounting, finance, marketing and entrepreneurship so that students interested in business can build those skills and be more competitive in internships and jobs,” Galambos said. “Many of our alumni have been successful in the business world, and the business and entrepreneurship major will open additional doors for our students.”

Galambos said as part of the major, students are required to do some type of experience learning.

He said this can be in the form of practicums or internships between junior and senior year, off-campus or study abroad programs, a field experience project or a shadowing experience with a business organization. 

Galambos said experiences like these give students a chance to put their critical thinking and problem-solving skills to the test in real life.

He said the ratio of students to faculty members in the new business and entrepreneurship major is expected to be about 8:1.

“This ratio allows for one-to-one learning and a high degree of individual attention, as well as relevant collaboration,” Galambos said.

He said the board has already approved funding for the major.

“(Which) includes funding to support such (things) as hiring new faculty for this major,” he said.
Beyond principles
Skran said the business and entrepreneurship program inspires a deeper, beneath-the-surface understanding of how the world actually works.

“I’m excited we will offer a number of courses that consider business and the greater good,” she said. “One of these courses will be offered by a historian and will look at the challenges and successes of Black and African Americans in entrepreneurship and business.”

Another, Skran said, will focus on environmental, social and governance issues that currently affect the world of business.
She said the new major will also add to the courses in arts entrepreneurship and management that Lawrence is already offering.

Skran and Galambos said the university expects interest in the new major to grow over the next two to three years and so, too, will the program to accommodate that interest.

“While we (won’t) predict enrollment in this program, what we are anticipating is strong interest, which is already in evidence through the growing number of inquiries about (it),” Skran said. 

Broad groundwork
Galambos said the premise behind liberal arts is for the higher education experience to cultivate students into young adults who are conversant in many topics.

“Like all Lawrence students, business and entrepreneurship majors will have a well-rounded education that emphasizes critical thinking, communication skills and bringing together analytical skills with an understanding of social, cultural and historical context,” he said.

Lawrence University in Appleton has about 1,500 students. Submitted Photo

“These are skills we know businesses and employers look for, especially when combined with foundational business skills.”

No matter what their major is, in order to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree, all Lawrence undergraduates must take at least one course each in fine arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

Galambos said students are also required to take some classes that expose them to thinking outside the American and European box.

For example, he said, a student majoring in biochemistry and minoring in computer science might have classes in psychology, theater and botany; while another student majoring in Chinese and Japanese might take U.S. history: 1896 to present, the biology of human reproduction and directed study in film.

The Lawrence University course catalog states the purpose of the “distribution requirement is to ensure that students graduating from Lawrence experience the breadth of study central to a liberal arts education.”

In addition to classes in fine arts, social sciences, the humanities and natural sciences, Galambos said Lawrence students are required to take two classes that have a diversity component.

Of those two classes, one must put a global spin on a current issue or cover an area of the world that is neither the U.S. nor Europe.

Another course must deal with diversity as it relates to modern society.

The intent of the diversity component, Galambos said, is to prepare students for a world that’s becoming more connected every day.

The new major, Galambos said, will connect courses in various disciplines with business topics.

“Like with any major at Lawrence, most students in business and entrepreneurship will take a wide variety of courses, with less than half of their coursework being in their major,” Galambos said. “So the experience of these students will be similar to the experience of Lawrence students in general. In addition, we are significantly expanding the set of courses that teach foundational business skills.”

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