Arts and Sciences Council members approved a new innovation and entrepreneurship certificate Thursday.
Of 24 council representatives, 18 voted in favor of the certificate proposal that was first put forward last year. As the first experiential learning certificate, the program is designed to teach students about entrepreneurship through hands-on involvement with projects. Additionally, the program aims to enhance students’ ability to address complex problems through interdisciplinary work.
“Because of the ways in which we have been challenged to think about the problems really thoughtfully, [the faculty] have really enabled us to come forward with this proposal,” said Kathie Amato, managing director for education for Duke's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative.
Amato added that students are excited about learning entrepreneurship skills, and the certificate will create an interdisciplinary link between their major and the real world.
The overall goal of the certificate is to help students turn ideas into actions and go through the process of realizing an idea, said Eric Toone, vice provost and director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative.
Some faculty voiced concerns over the purposes of the new certificate as described in the proposal.
“This is the vaguest proposal I’ve ever seen,” said Ara Wilson, associate professor of women’s studies and cultural anthropology. “I don’t see any academic rationale and what kind of liberal art components there are.”
Dean of Academic Affairs Lee Baker noted that the curriculum committee has explored similar questions, and has felt that it integrated many disciplines and satisfied that intellectual bar for a certificate.
Wilson also asked whether the certificate was just offering a chance for students to generate income from innovation.
Amato said that the application process and strong advising component would help them identify students for the program.
“If a student’s only purpose is to generate income from innovation, this program is not for them,” she said.
Amato noted that some courses listed in the certificate program overlap with other existing departments.
“Why can’t these courses be covered in public policy or environmental science?” said Micaela Janan, associate professor of classical studies.
Baker added that certificates are specifically interdisciplinary pathways of study, which cannot be accomplished in one department or another.
He also noted that the bursting demand for Markets and Management Studies would likely be reduced by this new certificate program, which he hopes could ease some of the pressure MMS currently has.
“This certificate lets students really invest in a sustained project with the understanding that those experiences are in between the sandwich of elective courses,” Baker said. “It provides more coherence between their curricular and their co-curricular.”
In other business:
Chantal Reid, assistant professor of the practice of biology and moderator of a faculty forum on online education, presented information gathered from the forum to the council.
The online faculty forum, open from February to end of March, did not garner as much faculty participation as expected. Approximately 19 percent of the 971 faculty members visited the site, Reid said. Discussions in the forum centered on topics such as online technologies, Duke-originated online courses for credit, and non-Duke online courses for credit.
Faculty expressed mixed opinions of effectiveness and mechanisms of online teaching, with concerns over maintaining the integrity of online courses and interests in preserving the quality of online teaching, said John Brown, assistant professor of the practice of music.
Revisions of the council’s bylaws, especially those on council representation and voting, will mostly likely be discussed late in Fall 2014, said Thomas Robisheaux, chair of the council and Fred W. Schaffer Professor of History.
Robisheaux added that the Duke Kunshan University search committee for non-Duke faculty has finished its search process.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed quotes to Cathy Clark, adjunct professor of social entrepreneurship at Fuqua School of Business. The Chronicle regrets the error.