ENTREPRENEURSHIP COURSES AT BROWN UNIVERSITY
There are a variety of courses related to entrepreneurship at Brown, and this list is intended to be a starting point for students who would like to learn more. This list is not meant to be exhaustive — indeed there a number of courses around the University that are not explicitly about entrepreneurship, per se, yet whose content at times touches on the subject. Rather this is meant to highlight courses that have a more explicit connection to the study of entrepreneurship, even if they differ in terms of department, methodology, and pedagogy. We hope that this serves as a good starting point for students who wish to make entrepreneurship a meaningful part of their Brown experience while on campus.
More detailed information about courses can be found below on the Courses at Brown website. Please be aware that course offerings may change year to year. Check in with the courses respective home departments for details.
(1) FIND & VALIDATE AN UNMET NEED
The first fundamental step in building a venture is to identify a strong and enduring problem that needs to be solved.
(2) DEVELOP A VALUE PROPOSITION
Next comes the process of developing a solution to that problem that addresses the fundamental questions of Who, What and especially Why.
(3) CREATE A SUSTAINABILITY MODEL
Next, great ventures do more than provide one-off interventions – they create value in a way that is repeatable and scalable answering another fundamental question of How.
Many students begin their foray into the study (and practice) of entrepreneurship via two longstanding and popular courses. ENGN 9, the iconic course taught by Professor Hazeltine (and now co-taught with Thano Chaltas), covers many of the foundational elements of the business and non-profit enterprise and introduces students to the fundamentals of management. Similarly, ENGN 1010 covers the basics of the entrepreneurial process by using case-based instruction to put students in the founder’s “hot seat” and confront real-life examples. Together these courses frequently act as a springboard for students’ further entrepreneurial activity.
ENGN 0090: Management of Industrial and Nonprofit Organizations
Thano Chaltas / Barrett Hazeltine
Exposes students to the concepts and techniques of management. Topics include marketing, strategy, finance, operations, organizational structure, and human relations. Guest lecturers describe aspects of actual organizations. Lectures and discussions.
ENGN 1010: The Entrepreneurial Process
Danny Warshay / Jason Harry / Fran Slutsky / Jon Cohen
Entrepreneurship is innovation in practice: transforming ideas into opportunities, and, through a deliberate process, opportunities into commercial realities. These entrepreneurial activities can take place in two contexts: the creation of new organizations; and within existing organizations. This course will present an entrepreneurial framework for these entrepreneurial processes, supported by case studies that illustrate essential elements. Successful entrepreneurs and expert practitioners will be introduced who will highlight practical approaches to entrepreneurial success.
Beyond ENGN 9 and ENGN 1010 students have a wide range of entrepreneurially-oriented courses available to them. Consistent with the theme of “entrepreneurship as problem solving” not all of these courses are explicitly about business. In fact frequently students find new and exciting ideas by exploring how the entrepreneurial process connects to other domains. From medicine to the arts, from social enterprise to sustainability, Brown has many courses where students can extend their understanding of entrepreneurship into other areas of interest.
AMST 2690: Management of Cultural Institutions
This course explores public humanities institutions as an organizational system interacting with broader community systems. Students gain an understanding of the managerial, governance and financial structures of public humanities organizations and how those structures relate to mission, programming and audience. The course is designed to help those who work on the program side of public humanities and cultural non-profits(as educators, librarians, curators, interpreters, exhibit designers, public programming coordinators, and/or grant makers) engage more strategically with planning, organizational behavior, revenue generation, finance, marketing, and governance.
BIOL 0080 - Biotechnology Management
An examination of the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical product industries: what they are, how they function, whence they originate, and various perspectives on why some succeed and others fail. Pathways from lab-bench to marketplace are described as are the pervasive influences of the FDA, patent office, and courts. Extensive reading; emphasis on oral presentation. Primarily intended for students planning a career in biomedical industry.
BIOL 2089: The Importance of Intellectual Property in Biotechnology
Jeff Morgan / Dan Holmander
This course delves into the various roles of intellectual property in biotechnology. In addition to providing a solid foundation in the fundamentals of intellectual property, the course will use case studies in biotechnology to explore in depth the interplay between specific scientific breakthroughs and intellectual property. An understanding of the science of biotechnology is critical for advanced understanding of the value and possibilities of biotechnology intellectual property.
CSCI 1900: CSCI Startup
In CSCI Startup, you will incorporate and run a startup. Apply as a team to be part of a prototype class to remove the mystery from starting a company and to focus entirely on a product you’re passionate about. We will learn by doing. Each team will incorporate, build a product for real customers, advertise their product, and improve it week after week. We’ll spend at least half of our class meetings with individual attention to each group’s progress and how to improve your offerings. Assignments will be designed to apply to any company, with enough flexibility to ensure you’re always working on things that make sense for your business.
CSCI 1951C: Designing Humanity Centered Robots
Offered by Brown’s Computer Science department under the auspices of the Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative. It is focused on the iterative design process and how it can be used to develop robots for solving tasks that help people. It will expose students to a suite of fabrication and prototyping technologies sufficient for creating a functioning robotic system. The course has two tracks, one intended for CS concentrators, and one intended for non-concentrators with previous design experience. The non-concentrator track cannot be used toward fulfilling a Computer Science concentration requirement.
CS1951I: CS for Social Change
Students will work in a studio environment to iteratively design, build, and test technical projects in partnership with different social change organizations. Students will be placed in small teams to collaboratively work on projects that will range from, for example, developing a chatbot to aid community engagement to conducting geospatial data analytics. Through the course, we will also reflect on our positionality and ethics in engaging in social impact work and what it practically means to leverage technology to create social change on an everyday basis.
ECON 1490: Designing Internet Marketplaces
How has the digital economy changed market interactions? The goal of this course is to help you think critically, using economic theory, about the future of the digital economy. What are important economic activities now being conducted digitally? How has digital implementation of these activities changed economists’ classical views and assumptions? What are ways in which we can use economics to engineer “better” digital markets? We will focus on several real-world markets (eg. eBay, Airbnb, Google advertising, Uber, Tinder, TaskRabbit) and topics (eg. market entry, pricing, search, auctions, matching, reputation, peer-to-peer platform design).
ECON 1730: Venture Capital, Private Equity, and Entrepreneurship
Rafael La Porta
This course will use a combination of lectures and case discussions to prepare students to make decisions, both as entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, regarding the financing of rapidly growing firms. The course will focus on the following five areas:
1. Business valuation
3. Venture Capital Industry
ENGN 0020: Transforming Society-Technology and Choices for the Future
This course will address the impact that technology has on society, the central role of technology on many political issues, and the need for all educated individuals to understand basic technology and reach an informed opinion on a particular topic of national or international interest. The course will begin with a brief history of technology.
ENGN 0110: Lean Launchpad
The Lean LaunchPad (LLP) is a Wintersession course on how to build a startup using lean startup tools and frameworks. It is a hands-on, intensive, experiential course designed for student teams who are serious about pursuing a startup. The course teaches Customer Development, which requires students to get out of the building and test their business hypotheses with real customers, and uses the Business Model Canvas as a scorecard.
ENGN 0900: Managerial Decision Making
Thano Chaltas / Barrett Hazeltine
Ways of making effective decisions in managerial situations, especially situations with a significant technological component; decision analysis; time value of money; competitive situations; forecasting; planning and scheduling; manufacturing strategy; corporate culture.
ENGN 0930C: Design Studio
Designstudio is a course open to students interested in learning through making. Working in a studio environment, we will iteratively design, build, and test projects, as we imaginatively frame design problems, and develop novel strategies for addressing those problems. We will explore design thinking, creative collaboration, exploratory play, ideation, iteration, woodworking, prototyping, CNC milling and laser cutting – in addition to other strategies that enhance our creative processes – as we establish a technical and conceptual foundation for the design and fabrication of objects and experiences. Enrollment limited to 16. Instructor permission required.
ENGN0930L/1930L: Biomedical Engineering Design and Innovation
Anubhav Tripathi / Celinda Kofron
ENGN1930L is the culmination “capstone” of the biomedical engineering educational experience. The primary objective of this course is to recall and enhance design principles introduced through the engineering core curriculum and to apply this systematic set of engineering design skills to biomedical engineering projects. Students will form teams with their peers and a clinical advisor, identify and define a design project to meet a clinical need, and engage in the design process through the course of the semester. For seniors only. Non-engineering concentrators should register for ENGN 0930L.
ENGN 0930L is an incubator for innovative ideas in biomedical design. Students across all disciplines are invited to collaborate with biomedical engineers to enhance the development of design solutions that address clinical and public health concerns. Students will form teams with their peers and a clinical advisor, identify and define a design project to meet a clinical need, and engage in the design process throughout the semester. Engineering concentrators should register for ENGN1930L.
ENGN 1931N: Building Entrepreneurial Ecosystems for Economic Inclusion
Entrepreneurial ecosystems represent one of the most recent developments for fostering economic development as leaders globally aspire to build successful ecosystems in their cities and regions. . This class will examine the emergence of entrepreneurial ecosystems in different cities and the various roles, functions and goals of entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) in these contexts. These organizations support the development of social and cultural capital in entrepreneurs and act as intermediaries in connecting them with the existing resources of an ecosystem. At the same time, ESOs may engage in gatekeeping behavior that replicates or even furthers inequalities in access to resources for certain groups of entrepreneurs, such as women and minorities. The class will focus on different organizational practices and policies for building inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems. Students will have the opportunity to visit local ESOs during the course to enhance their learning of ecosystems, ESOs and inclusive economic development.
ENGN 1931Q: Entrepreneurial Management in Adversity
“Sweet are the uses of Adversity,” said William Shakespeare. But then again, Shakespeare never had his ventures explode on him. Companies get into trouble all the time – they make the wrong products for the market, their sales fail to meet quota, their factories go on strike. But this course is not about the day-to-day problems that companies run into. It examines what action items a venture must do when its very existence is at stake. This is the situation where time is the critical element – there isn’t enough time to hire consultants, do research, hire new employees – it is when Top Management must make decisions often with insufficient data and a series of alternative options – all of which seem ‘sub-optimal.’ But one must be chosen.
ENGN 1931W: Selling & Sales Leadership in the Entrepreneurial Environment
Nothing happens until a sale is made. That simple point underlines the critical importance of sales. Almost every business plan “assumes” a certain amount of sales but that assumption is the tipping point. Without sales the entire business model is an exercise in frustration. The CEO, CFO and the General Manager must not only understand the sales process but also embrace the fact that the ability to sell is the single most critical success factor of any enterprise, whether new or ongoing.
ENGN 2910G: Topics in Translational Research and Technologies
To improve human health, engineering and scientific discoveries must be explored in the context of application and translated into human/societal value. Translational research is creating a fundamental change in the way basic science and engineering research has operated for decades, breaking down the literal and figurative walls that separate basic scientists/engineers and clinical researchers. Such discoveries typically begin at “the bench” with basic research–and in the case of medicine–then progress to the clinical level, or the patient’s “bedside.” This seminar course will utilize case studies to demonstrate to students how the translational research unfolds. Lectures will be delivered by clinicians, medical researchers, engineers, and entrepreneurs, with case studies focused on topics ranging from value creation, IRB, HIPAA, FDA approval, etc.
ENVS 1545: The Theory and Practice of Sustainable Investing
21st century businesses and investors face a broadening and deepening array of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risks and opportunities. Climate change, water scarcity, community conflicts, resource depletion, supply chain breakdowns, worker well-being and economic inequality pose present material challenges that make sustainability an imperative for successful corporations and investors. We will examine current ESG strategy, trends, future scenarios, players, and frameworks and integrate that theory with practical investment performance analysis, metrics, and study of screens, asset classes, and diversification.
MUSC 2220: Designing and Playing Alternative Controllers
This seminar will explore the science and aesthetics of designing alternate controllers for musical performance. Topics will include basic electronics and hardware prototyping, instrument construction, theories of gesture, human-computer interface issues, and the challenges of mapping sensor data to meaningful musical parameters. Previous experience with MaxMSP or other real-time programming required. Permission of instructor required. (photo credit: Butch Rovan – student pictured is Peter Bussigel)
PLCY 1702A: Justice, Gender, and Markets
This course will explore two main questions: how poor women connect to markets and how philosophical ideas about gender have influenced ideas about gender and justice and consequently, gender, justice, and markets. These questions help us explore how justice, gender, and markets interact and create conditions that keep millions of women trapped in poverty. They help us then develop policies and programs that might help women escape entrenched poverty.
PLCY 1910: Social Entrepreneurship
Bill Allen / Alan Harlam
This course introduces students to social innovation and social entrepreneurship and engages them in identifying significant issues, problems, tools, strategies and models that drive bold solutions to complex contemporary problems. Enrollment limit is 40.
SOC 1115: The Enlightened Entrepreneur: Changemakers, Inspired Protagonists and Unreasonable People
This course explores the practices of enlightened entrepreneurs, with the intention of moving beyond the limiting social/commercial dichotomy to develop a more useful paradigm for understanding entrepreneurs whose ventures lead to positive developments in society and in the environment. You will be exploring the success stories and cautionary tales of entrepreneurs to develop an understanding of how ventures can have an impact on their fields of engagement as well as their fields of influence. Afterwards you will develop an assessment tool for understanding the spectrum of entrepreneurs whose ventures lead to positive developments in society and in the environment.
(typically fall only)
SOC 1118: Context Research for Innovation
This course brings design thinking into conversation with qualitative research methods, examining the elements of a comprehensive perspective of context. It introduces students to design research methods, ethnographic research methods, and how they work together. Students will learn how to use these methods to identify and engage in “deep hanging out” with the problem, gap or inefficiency in question. They will then move on to patient contextualized opportunity identification for meaningful innovation. By the end of the course, students will have developed a process for effective, through innovation context analysis. Relevant for designers of products, services, organizations , and experience.
SOC 1220: The Future of Work
Technological advances in brain science, big data, AI, VR, AR, mixed reality, blockchain, machine and deep learning have the potential to substantially change our work experiences, organizations and society. Collectively, these trends are referred to as the Future of Work. These changes can bring many positive benefits, such as new work options in the gig economy or new opportunities for start-ups. At the same time, such advances can raise ethical concerns and questions when technology is used to predict human behavior, replace employees, create a contingent and low-wage workforce, or drive autonomous vehicles among many other examples. Using a combination of case studies, projects, academic articles and current media materials, this class will examine three issues related to these new trends: how the world of work is changing, why these changes are important in relation to organizationsand entrepreneurship, and what skills are necessary to shape the future of work in ways that are sustainable, ethical and inclusive.
SOC 1127: Ethnographic Praxis in Industry
A community of practitioners and their eponymous annual gathering, EPIC promotes the use and value of ethnography in industry. EPIC people work to ensure that innovation, strategies, processes and products address business opportunities that are anchored in what matters to people in their everyday lives today and over time. This course explores the tools and resources used by ethnographers in industry. We will study the EPIC community as a tribe of ethnographers working in a particular context with its own language, practices and beliefs regarding the use of ethnographic skills.
SOC 1260: Market Research in Public and Private Sectors
Introduction to data and research methods for private and public sector organizations. Data used in market research include trends in the population of consumers, economic trends, trends within sectors and industries, analyses of product sales and services, and specific studies of products, promotional efforts, and consumer reactions. Emphasizes the use of demographic, GIS, and other available data.
SOC 1871O: Law, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
This seminar explores the relationship between legal institutions and macro-organizational change. The course devotes particular attention to the legal and organizational processes that shape (and are shaped by) the emergence of new technologies, new enterprises, and new industries. Although discussions may touch on technical aspects of law and/or entrepreneurship, most topics and materials focus on the general sociological processes that underlie changing organizational environments. The seminar is aimed at advanced students who have some prior familiarity with the sociology of law is helpful, but not essential. Through shared and individual readings, weekly discussions, and e-mail dialogues, the course provides an opportunity for students to refine and extend their thinking on important and controversial topics at the intersection of the contemporary organizational and socio-legal literatures.
(typically fall only)
UNIV 1089: Global Dynamics and Critical Perspectives on Immigrant Entrepreneurship in the United States
Immigrants now start more than a quarter of U.S. businesses, despite accounting for less than 15 percent of the total population (Kerr & Kerr, Harvard Business Review 2016). Also, a 2018 National Bureau of Economic Research study found that nearly 45 percent of immigrant business owners were women. This course traces the U.S. history of immigrant, ethnic and religious minority groups (e.g., Italian, Jewish and German entrepreneurs) starting from the 18th century to the rise of immigrant Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Cuban and Iranian-owned businesses that particularly occurred during 20th Century. We also examine emerging immigrant entrepreneurs among national origin groups that historically had low rates of self-employment, such as Mexicans and Filipinos, and among the newest of the more recent immigrant groups, including Vietnamese, Cambodians, Bolivians, Ethiopians and Eritreans. This course also examines the specific role that immigrant women and refugees play as entrepreneurs. In recent years, we have witnessed remarkable shifts in immigrant entrepreneurship, from local, labor-intensive, service-oriented enterprises to global, knowledge-intensive, and professional services. These entrepreneurs have developed businesses various industries including hospitality, food services, garment, health care and medicine, biotech, and technology.
VISA 1800P: Art/Work: Professional Practice for Visual Artists
Visual artists don’t have agents or managers–you have to do it all yourself. This class covers business basics including tracking inventory and preparing invoices; taking legal precautions like registering a copyright and drafting consignment forms; using promotional tools; and making decisions such as choosing the right venue for your work. Grants, residencies, and relationships with galleries & nonprofit institutions will be discussed in depth. Work will emphasize community the practical, skills to thrive as a visual artist.