Date of this Version
Honors in Practice 16 (2020)
Honors colleges aim to provide unique first-year experiences that promote life skills and emphasize process over product in an interdisciplinary setting that builds community. A two-semester, five-semester-hour course sequence with colloquia tackles these challenges by introducing an entrepreneurial mindset that pushes students toward innovative understanding and building of community. The first iteration includes an introduction to design thinking; identification of wicked problems; collection of data using immersion experiences, interviews, and literature review; and experiments (n = 35) in project-based entrepreneurial methodologies using Lean LaunchPad. The second iteration involves assessment, applied qualitative analysis, out-of-class learning, and peer mentoring. Results provide a framework for developing innovative thinking, an entrepreneurial mindset, and community engagement among first-year students—a design that, the authors conclude, has not only developed in students specific, non-academic skills (such as resiliency and creative self-confidence) but effectively doubled the size (as mandated by the university) of the first-year class. Implications for future iterations are considered, calling for strengthening administrative support, increasing academic/community partnership, and sustaining funding beyond the first year.