If approved, a new certificate program will provide opportunities for undergraduates interested in entrepreneurship.

The innovation and entrepreneurship certificate program, presented to the Arts and Sciences Council at their meeting Thursday, seeks to provide students a framework through which to identify and creatively address challenges across disciplines. It is also designed to offer students a chance to address problems and to critically reflect on their actions, said presenter Lee Baker, dean of academic affairs and associate vice provost for undergraduate education.

“The certificate program provides a mechanism for students to align their curriculum with their co-curricular experiences and reflection,” Baker said.

There are no proposed pre-requisites for the program and the core requirements consist of four courses, one of which is a gateway class in innovation, ideation and design. Although specific details of the new certificate program were not discussed at the meeting, overall it would aim to cultivate an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit and help students develop capacities in creativity, technical competencies, reflection and collaboration.

The certificate program is a great example of how the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, which was launched in 2010, was envisioned to help students turn ideas into real action, said Eric Toone, vice provost and director of the initiative.

David Malone, associate professor of the practice of education, motioned to move that the council approve the certificate program proposal. He noted that the program is a thoughtfully designed coherent educational pathway. It also does not require an extensive amount of new resources and builds upon currently existing faculty and courses, he said.

Physics professor Steffen Bass put forth a modification of the proposal to make it more inclusive and all-encompassing.

"This is design and art and it changed the way we communicate, but at the heart this is also computer science, physics and biology,” Bass said, pointing to his cell phone. “I am concerned when I look at the electives of this program, which contains few natural sciences courses.”

Bass proposed that the goal of the first three years of the certificate would be to achieve a balanced slate of elective courses that reflect the full breadth of the University’s offerings in engineering, arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

Pratt School of Engineering offered a pilot class on entrepreneurship last semester that was a huge success, said Lawrence Carin, professor of electrical and computer engineering,

“The class was completely full and students had a great time,” Carin said. “I very strongly endorse this [certificate program], and in our experience students would really like it.”

Carin added that Pratt will have a new gateway class in Fall 2014 based on the assumption that this proposal is going to be approved.

The certificate program would also change the way people tell stories in the arts and humanities, said Wesley Hogan, director of Center for Documentary Studies. Students are able to create new scientific ways of story-telling by using web applications and other kinds of interactive documentaries.

“It could allow students to do some exciting work,” Hogan said. “We see a lot of potential here.”

Students involved in entrepreneurship activities on campus were also invited to offer their perspectives on the certificate program at the council meeting.

“If I could have my hands dipped in it, I would definitely have done it,” said junior Ashley Qian, a visual arts and computer science major and women studies minor.

The proposed certificate is different from the existing certificate program in markets and management studies, said Egan Family Professor of Sociology Martin Reuf, who signed on to be the director of the innovation and entrepreneurship certificate program. The distinction lies in the new program's focus on innovation in products rather than in management. It would also attract a broader set of students than the MMS certificate has, he added.

In other news:

The council also heard a proposal to create a new academic title—the senior lecturer. Three categories of regular rank faculty include professors of practice, professors of research and lecturers. Currently, 30 faculty members hold the rank of lecturer in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences—the only regular rank faculty appointment track at Duke without the possibility of promotion. The proposed senior lecturer title would create opportunities of promotion for lecturers.

“We are a place that provides superior pedagogy and we need to provide opportunities for promotion,” said Dean of Arts and Sciences Laurie Patton. “But it does not mean we intend to hire more lecturers.”