Today’s college graduates will change careers – not just jobs – about seven times over their lifetime. This is according to Dr. Dianne Welsh, founding director of the award-winning Entrepreneurship Cross-Disciplinary Program (ECDP) at UNCG and Hayes Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship. In addition, freelancers now make up about 35 percent of the U.S. workforce, and that number is quickly rising.
“It’s not about traditional employment opportunities anymore,” says Welsh. “If you want to start and grow a business or get ahead in an existing organization, you have to be creative and innovative. Entrepreneurship programs prepare students to be more flexible, to deal with career ambiguity and a constantly changing economy.”
Welsh founded the ECDP in 2011 after founding the North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center in 2009 and serving as its first director. It is one of the largest cross-disciplinary entrepreneurship programs in the U.S., and the biggest in North Carolina. It is driven by a unique curricular design of cross-listed courses taken by entrepreneurship (ENT) majors and open to all majors as an ENT minor.
“My motivation was to infuse entrepreneurship across the curriculum,” she explains. “Our program is experiential and application-based. We have a required internship in the entrepreneurship major, and we highly recommend it as one of the electives in the minor. With Co-Lab, HQ Greensboro, the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Maker Space all needing interns, students have opportunities for paid, hands-on experience with entrepreneurs – as well as numerous small and medium businesses in the community and large corporations that know the value of entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation.”
EXPERIENCING EXPONENTIAL GROWTH
Students can embark on their entrepreneurial education as soon as they get to UNCG. “We have a popular Creativity, Innovation and Vision course and a Start Something! course, which starts students on the path to enhancing their creativity and innovation at the freshman and sophomore levels,” she says.
The ECDP program is about to become readily available to even more students. “This fall, the entrepreneurship minor will be 100 percent available online, one of the first cross-campus entrepreneurship programs offered fully online,” says Welsh. “By Fall 2019, we’ll also offer the full major online.” All required courses in the major are available online right now, except Entrepreneurial Finance and a selection of electives.
ECDP at a Glance
- 11 awards received from the Small Business Institute
- 7 national and international awards
- 57 cross-listed courses in 30 academic departments/programs at UNCG
- Excellence in Curriculum Innovation in Entrepreneurship Award, Deshpande Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education, June 2018
- Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Teaching & Pedagogical Innovation, Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (international award), October 2016
- Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Program in the United States, S. Association for Small Business & Entrepreneurship, 2012
COURSES IN 9 AREAS
- Creative Industries
- Family Business
- Health Care Entrepreneurship
- International Entrepreneurship
- Social Entrepreneurship
- Science, Technology and Innovation Entrepreneurship
- Sports Entrepreneurship
- 114 students majored in entrepreneurship
- 63 students minored in entrepreneurship
- 2,229 students took at least one entrepreneurship cross-listed course
- 30% increase in students working toward a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship
- 4% increase in students minoring in entrepreneurship
- 25% of the total UNCG undergraduate student body took at least one entrepreneurship class