A new course on Principled Entrepreneurship will be launched in 2017-2018. The course, which is intended for students from all majors who are interested in the entrepreneurial spirit and the creation of small businesses, was designed by AMU professors Mary Hunt and Gabriel Martinez and is made possible by a grant from the Charles Koch Foundation.
“What is particularly exciting about this course is that it is truly designed for students from any major,” says Mary Hunt, Assistant Professor of Business and Psychology. “People of all backgrounds and educational interests end up pursuing businesses in their lives. … This course will help them to understand the essential structures of a business to better prepare them to contribute, regardless of their academic interest.” Hunt, who will be teaching the new course, has taught entrepreneurship in the past and currently focuses her research on entrepreneurial motivations, namely, why people start and grow businesses.
Principled Entrepreneurship is offered as an elective for students in a business major, as well as a practical general elective for students of any major who seek to use their talents by creating a new venture. The course will cover the fundamental theories, history and practice of entrepreneurship, focusing on ethical principles and the meeting of human needs. The social teachings of the Catholic Church, Hunt explains, will provide the “foundational lens” for the “principled entrepreneur.” The social teachings that form the foundation for principled entrepreneurship include: work and human dignity, subsidiarity, co-creation, ownership and private property, and morality and the economy.
“[T]here are a growing number of students who state that they want to start their own businesses some day,” Hunt explains. “Others who actually have launched their own enterprises in college, and still others who want to work in small family businesses. All of these students can benefit greatly from learning both the theoretical knowledge and practical skills that will be taught in the Principled Entrepreneurship course.”
The course on Principled Entrepreneurship will give students the opportunity to interview a “real life” entrepreneur, assess and identify their own potential as an entrepreneur, create a viable business model, and, more generally, inspire students to launch new business ventures. The course is the result of a discussion that began back in Fall 2016, following on the heels of a partnership between the Charles Koch Foundation and Ave Maria University, with Dr. Seana Sugrue serving as the faculty liaison, on a project to promote an appreciation of civics and liberty. After this project, the Charles Koch Foundation reached out to Dr. Sugrue about ways to deepen its partnership with AMU. From this conversation, the course on Principled Entrepreneurship emerged as an area where the missions of AMU and the Charles Koch Foundation may overlap.
“The Charles Koch Foundation is concerned with fostering responsible leadership in both the economic and political realms for the sake of preserving liberty,” explains Dr. Seana Sugrue, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of Faculty and Associate Professor of Politics. “Ave Maria University seeks to educate students to be joyful, intentional followers of Christ, who use their education to serve others. Such service may be in positions of leadership in business or politics. Hence, the aims of Ave Maria University and the Charles Koch Foundation complement each other when it comes to preparing the next generation of responsible leaders, who are prepared to create value and to serve others.”
The Principled Entrepreneurship course is introduced amidst an increase in the numbers of students seeking majors in Business Administration, Finance, Accounting, and more recently, Marketing. As a Catholic university, AMU is committed to providing a moral framework rooted in faith to guide its students who are interested in the practice of business.
“[O]ften musicians or writers work independently and essentially run their own businesses to provide their talents,” Hunt shares. “Also, there are an increasing number of ‘social entrepreneurs’ who use their entrepreneurial skills in enterprises designed to help society in some way. In addition, those who major in the sciences or liberal arts are likely to work in some type of organization in their lives. …I can see many Ave Maria students from across all disciplines benefiting from what they will learn in [the] Principled Entrepreneurship course.”