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Experiential education in a student-run startup: A case study of a university student-led communications agency

Amy Struthers, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Jacht Ad Lab is a curious educational hybrid, which marries a credit-bearing college class with a startup business. This hands-on university-level experience is now in its sixth year of operation. A student-run revenue-generating communications agency, Jacht has become an important experiential education component within the advertising and public relations curriculum in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), a large Midwest land grant institution of higher education. Student-led communications agencies are increasingly being added to programs in advertising, public relations and marketing communications (Haley et al., 2016). However, little research has been conducted on the phenomenon. A survey of agencies in accredited advertising programs hinted at the diversity of structures and resources, as well as the difficulty in tracking the creation and extinction of such efforts (Busch, 2013). A high level of interest in Jacht, from current and prospective students and their parents, university administrators, prospective employers, donors, and other institutions suggests that the program could be an interesting case to document. In addition, Jacht can be seen in a bigger picture of higher education research, both as an opportunity for an educator/researcher to reflect on practice, and as a springboard for broader issues around the role of career education at universities, the challenges of bringing innovative curriculum to realization, and the value of experiential education. The purpose of this research is to provide a case study describing the creation and evolution of Jacht Ad Lab, as seen through the eyes of the founder/researcher, and incorporating the perspective of co-teachers as well as over 70 past student participants. Such a detailed history and analysis of this particular case will add to the growing body of literature concerning experiential education for college students, in particular those pursuing degrees in advertising, public relations, marketing, graphic design, or communications.

Subject Area

Curriculum development|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Struthers, Amy, "Experiential education in a student-run startup: A case study of a university student-led communications agency" (2016). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10103360.