The Entrepreneurial Studies program at Hawken includes yet transcends business skills. The semester program is housed at The Sally & Bob Gries Center for Experiential and Service Learning, which serves as the School’s urban extension campus in Cleveland’s University Circle. The course is designed as a forward-focused, interdisciplinary, honors-level class for juniors and seniors, with students earning 3 Honors credits. The curriculum fosters not only an entrepreneurial mindset rooted in experiential learning, but does so in cross-disciplinary immersion that is seamless and organic.
In Hawken’s semester course, real businesses give student teams real and urgent startup-related problems, with student teams delivering their final solutions to CEOs three weeks later. After working on two to three real business problems involving new venture creation, students build their own startups. The course incorporates the Lean LaunchPad (LLP) methodology, developed by serial-entrepreneur and academician Steve Blank. The course uses LLP to provide the scientific method made actionable for today, when nothing is predictable. Students get out of the building to conduct interviews as they test their hypotheses. They learn techniques for innovation, analytical approaches to research, and evidence based systems for decision-making. The course also integrates Design Thinking, with students learning skills such as observing, interviewing, discovering problems, and forming solutions using rapid prototyping – all while working in the field. Teams seek solutions to the real business problems with hard deliverables and deadlines.
Hawken’s Entrepreneurial Studies program engages students and cultivates their creativity and problem-solving skills through active learning. Students benefit because they learn to think critically, make well-informed decisions, innovate, and communicate effectively in today’s high-tech, fast changing world. They learn finance, statistics, industry knowledge and writing. They also learn how to bring their strengths to a team, how to prioritize and manage time, and how to navigate conflict. The class develops character, intellect and resilience. Students grow in a safe learning environment where they experiment, fail and succeed.