The undergraduate and graduate courses below are offered by the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative. Many other courses related to innovation and entrepreneurship are offered throughout Duke.

Undergraduate Courses

Building Global Audiences (I&E 250)

Marketing and publicity are so important to audience building that, 20 years ago, expanding beyond local audiences usually couldn’t be accomplished without huge advertising budgets. However, thanks to the Internet, you can build a global audience from your dorm room. This class explores how. You’ll learn about social media, search engine optimization, virality, content marketing, growth hacking, and other digital audience building strategies. They’re difficult to learn and time consuming to execute, so expect to struggle. We’ll learn as much from our failures as we will from our successes as we discover what it takes to cultivate global awareness for an idea without ever leaving Durham.

Learning to Fail (I&E 252)

In academic learning environments, students are taught to fear failure. Failing will ruin your GPA, prevent you from getting into a good college, cause trouble with parents, make you an outcast among your peers, and might even get you expelled. These kinds of negative associations with failure become so ingrained in school that most people spend their lives afraid of failing.
Conversely, many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs failed multiple times on their paths toward success. The underlying question of this class is to wonder if failing is really as antithetical to learning as we’ve been taught to believe. We’re going to try to answer the question in two ways. First, we’re going to examine examples of some of history’s greatest failures and see how they impacted future decisions.
Second, we’re going to attempt a series of ambitious entrepreneurial tasks where the goal will be nearly impossible to achieve. But accomplishing the tasks isn’t how we’ll judge success. Instead, when good entrepreneurs fail, they learn from their mistakes in order to have a better chance of succeeding in future attempts. So we’ll judge success in our class not by how poorly we did, but by how well prepared we are to try again.

Social Marketing for Entrepreneurs (I&E 253)

If you’re like the typical millennial, you spend hundreds of hours every month on sites like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, but you’ve never paid a penny for any of the services. Have you ever wondered how they could be free? In the web marketing industry, we have a saying for this seeming paradox: “If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer… you’re the product.” In other words, even though you might think of yourself as a valued user within your preferred social community, in reality, you’re actually the product the company is selling. In Social Marketing for Entrepreneurs, we’ll explore the other side of social media that most people never see: the customer side. Instead of using social media for entertainment, we’ll learn about using social media to market our products, companies, ideas, and even ourselves.
Through a variety of readings, case studies, speakers, and real-world experiments, we’ll spend the semester learning how to transform social media from a tool for entertainment into a tool for promotion, brand building, and revenue generation.

Social Innovation (I&E 261)

This course provides an overview of social innovation. It will begin by assessing problems with current mental and organizational models for addressing social needs and the resulting desire for, and urgency of, innovative approaches. The course develops a theory of innovation and describes examples of persons and organizations demonstrating innovative approaches. We also look at how to innovate effectively and the attributes and skills that cultivate such innovation, emphasizing the importance of systemic thinking, cross sector collaboration, and creative engagement. The course will combine lectures with discussion groups that consider issues such as education, health, children, poverty, and the environment. The course also will seek to provide students with a framework and tools for imagining their own engagement in social innovation.

Open Knowledge and Education Innovation (I&E 262)

Twenty-first century technology has made it easier than ever to find and produce “open” knowledge: Wikipedia promises free access to the sum of all the world’s knowledge with the tap of a finger, a Google search yields troves of information, instructional channels abound on YouTube, and organizations like Khan Academy offer course materials free to anyone living anywhere. Why, then, is so much of the knowledge we learn in traditional academic settings “closed”? Who stands to win if we keep knowledge locked behind journal subscription paywalls, restricted by narrow copyright, and regulated by a small group of experts in a field? Who stands to lose under this model of education? Examining open knowledge within political, legal, and ethical contexts, in this course we will consider how education innovation and emergent models of self-organized learning can empower students to become entrepreneurs and agents of their own education and life pathways. Working together as a hands-on, participatory learning lab, we will research and conduct interviews with open knowledge and education innovation changemakers across academic disciplines and industry. We will publish our research as open education resources (multimedia case studies, articles, and learning modules) licensed under Creative Commons and free to use and remix by students, educators, and citizens around the world.

Entrepreneurial Problem Solving in Global Health (I&E 263S-01)

Global health, both international and local, has a long way to go to support healthy lives. In this class, students will have the opportunity to gain understanding of how the Entrepreneurial method can help to improve health. Students will learn about the victories and the challenges, and in the end, will be better able to be successful in their future endeavors. Students will be challenged, and will have to work, but in the end, they will be proud of their accomplishments and newfound knowledge.

Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise (I&E 271A)

In this course, students will develop an understanding of the resources, skills, and planning required to launch a new product or service. Through lectures, case studies and visiting talks, the course addresses critical factors such as: ideation, competition and competitive advantage, financing requirements, corporate culture, product positioning, customer identification, and market segmentation.

Basics of Technology & Commercialization (I&E 281)

This course covers assessment, development, and translation for a range of technical areas, such as pharmaceuticals, computer science, energy, and medical devices. The course is organized around the basic elements of taking technology from conception to development and commercialization, including understanding technology, developing a plan to get to market, and assessing the potential market. The course combines lecture, case assignments, and discussion of real technology development opportunities.

Foundations of an Open Source World (I&E 290 – 1)

Something is “open” when it’s accessible to, modifiable by, and sharable among anyone. This course explores ways in which principles derived from the open source software movement— principles like transparency, collaboration, meritocracy, and adaptability—are generating social, cultural, and economic innovations.
In an interactive, hands-on learning environment, students will research contemporary open source innovations, develop open source- related pitches, and create multimedia articles for the open access publication, the world’s leading open source storytelling platform. Working closely with editors, students will engage in authentic learning as they conduct interviews with open source thought leaders, practice creative collaboration skills, and contribute new knowledge to a global audience of more than a million monthly readers.

Sports Entrepreneurship and the Evolving Marketplace (I&E 290-01)

Most aspiring entrepreneurs look at startups with a unrealistic view of what it takes to start and grow a business. In the world of sports and sports media it is further complicated by some of the most powerful organizations, athletes and executives in the world. Good ideas aren’t enough. Knowing how the industry functions and where the opportunities exist are the only way to win.
It starts with an idea, maybe you write a business plan and then you move to a Mininimally Viable Product or do you use a Risk Assessment Test? What does your business canvas look like? Now you’re ready to get funding and launch your business.
Through a variety of readings, guest speakers, and case studies in Sports Entrepreneurship and the Evolving Marketplace, we’ll explore what it takes to start a sports based business from idea generation to your funding pitch. In parallel, we will look at some of the biggest successes from the sports entrepreneurial marketplace.
The course capstone will be a business pitch by student teams to the entire class.

Introduction to Performing Arts Management & Entrepreneurship (I&E 290-02)

This course, tailored for students who are considering careers in the arts, arts management, and arts entrepreneurship, seeks to teach fundamentals of performing arts management and equip students with knowledge of the business and entrepreneurial aspects of the arts and creative industries. Students will engage with a broad variety of guests including visiting artists brought to campus by Duke Performances, Duke alumni working in the performing arts, and members of the region’s burgeoning performing arts scene. There is a requirement to attend live performances (Duke Performances, as well as other performances on campus and in the community) and we will pull our reading list from arts criticism, arts management case studies, artist memoirs and books on the performing arts, and journalism about the business of performing arts, including timely articles that will be added throughout the semester. Permission of instructor required.

Arts, Theater and Film Arts Entrepreneurship and Social Policy (I&E 290 – 2)

This course will give the student an overview of the business, legal, creative and social issues underlying entrepreneurial entertainment ventures primarily in theater and film, as well as their economic and societal impact. It will underscore that almost every entertainment endeavor is by necessity innovative and entrepreneurial, that entertainment and the arts can be leading forces of and for social change, and that the arts can have a major economic and cultural impact on the communities they touch.
The student will develop a working knowledge of how to be an entrepreneur within the entertainment industry, including how to create, structure and sell entertainment productions. We will focus on developing the skill sets necessary to work on and spearhead these productions, including working with creatives, talent, designers, investors, and advertising, marketing, sponsorship and promotion personnel and how those skill sets are transferable to other industries. Work product for the course may include mock negotiations, issue spotting exams, mock arguments on both sides of whether to create the Durham Performing Arts Center, creating marketing, promotion and sponsorship plans for a Broadway show, and exercises in picking and developing material and pushing for social change through a creative context. As part of these exercises, we will also create pitches and business plans to attach investors, creative talent, directors, theaters, production companies, sponsors and other creative personnel as applicable.

Strategies for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E 352)

This course covers the component elements of developing the skills needed to launch a venture. Starting at the point of need identification, the course covers lean methodology; innovation and entrepreneurship strategy; creating the needed financing and resource structures; effectively marketing/ communicating the innovation and its associated benefits; leading, managing, and working effectively within teams; creating a positive and ethical work culture; and evaluating success. Materials for class discussion are case studies and readings.

OSPRI (Open Source Pedagogy, Research + Innovation) Lab: Open Source Education Technology (I&E 390 – 1)

Students in this year-long, project-based, interdisciplinary course will research innovations in open and personalized learning and develop open source education technology focused on social, adaptive and customizable learning. Students will have an opportunity for experiential and mentored learning with companies such as Red Hat, which will further increase exposure to and critical reflection about collaborative, team- and project-based learning.
This course is cross-listed with Bass Connections under the Education and Human Development theme. For a full course description and to apply to the course, please go to OSPRI Lab: Open Source Education Technology on the Bass Connections website. Please note the interdisciplinary nature of this course; students do not need coding experience to apply. Students with interest and experience in the humanities, social sciences, computer science, and engineering are welcome to apply.

Devising Theater: Collaborative Creation (I&E 390S)

Invent new ways to disrupt the recognized systems of making work and our ways of looking at the world. Blur or disappear the lines between performer, author, choreographer and designer. Share the duties of playwright and dramaturg, director and performer. Students will create their own piece from the ground up using improvisational games, teasing out a story they want to tell and how they want to tell it. A text will emerge in democratic fashion. Students will be passionate about source material; do research; get material out there as soon as possible; unite the company around a common purpose; keep an open mind; recognize that the importance of story is relative; always look for counterpoints; acknowledge that everyone works differently; embrace risk. Emphasis on team building and communication, confidence, connecting, being present in the moment, listening, adaptability, presentation skills, emotion, expressivity, and vulnerability. Required: eagerness and commitment.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship Capstone (I&E 499)

In this course, students bring together interdisciplinary insights from their work throughout the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate program to shed light on innovation and entrepreneurship and the roles they play in addressing the world’s most pressing problems. The class will incorporate rich discussion, selected readings, and guest speakers addressing topics in innovation and entrepreneurship. Students will focus on applying what they have learned through the certificate curriculum to develop an innovation and entrepreneurship capstone project.

Graduate Courses

Social Innovation Practicum (I&E 510)

In the Social Innovation Practicum, students will learn about and support the design, development, assessment, and scaling up of innovative, sustainable approaches to addressing critical social and environmental problems in Durham and around the world. Working in multidisciplinary teams, students will gather and analyze data, develop recommendations, formulate implementation plans, and provide other support to clients that may include social entrepreneurs, funders, public sector innovators and policy makers, corporate social impact managers, and others. Participating students will have increased capacity for effective and thoughtful entrepreneurial leadership throughout their careers.
If interested in this course, complete this form .

Hacking for Conservation & Development: Applying a Lean Startup Model to the World’s Greatest Challenges (I&E 590)

This course focuses on teaching principals and practice of next generation approaches for conservation and development, with a problem-oriented approach. The course will review how we may harness the power of exponential technologies, open innovation, and entrepreneurship to transform the efficacy and scale of conservation & development efforts. This course will also offer participants a boot camp in rapid iteration, value proposition formulation and testing, frugal design, principals of digital development, open innovation, and technology development and scaling, as applied to solving wicked problems. Interdisciplinary project teams will review the current problem sets in conservation and development, and take a scientific approach to developing, evaluating, and iterating innovations through evidence collection and hypothesis testing.
Permission Required Contact:

Research and Technology Translation (I&E 710)

This course focuses primarily on the innovative and entrepreneurship aspects of translating research and technology developments out of the lab and research center, as well as launching new products or starting new companies. The dark reality is that most ventures fail. Sometimes there is not much you can do to prevent failure; however, you can reduce the chance of failure by learning from others’ experience and your own experience. This course leverages the experiences of others who have failed and succeeded so you can increase your chances of success. This course will cover many topics typically taught in technical leadership programs and graduate professional programs. You can think of it as “The Art of Start and the Science of Triumph!”

Biodesign (I&E 720)

The Biodesign course is an experiential program with a focus on learning a proven, project-based approach to identifying health needs and developing innovative diagnostics, devices, or other health technologies to address them. The course is divided into two sections and each section requires extensive team interaction and the direct application of skills in the finding and solving of problems identified by those going through the class. The first section focuses on the need and is composed of four modules – the team, needs finding, needs ranking, and need description/specification. The second section focuses on the solution and is composed of three modules – brainstorm, mind map, and solution development/pitch.

For more information or to obtain a permission number, please contact

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