COVID-19 has plunged us all into the midst of a profound global crisis, touching every facet of our lives. It has also exposed seismic flaws in many of the economic, social, political and community frameworks we have known. But in the face of its challenges, we have also seen inspiring examples of personal and professional courage and ingenuity. And it is that combination of flaws and possibilities that we will explore in EGR 488 this fall – through the lens of socially-focused entrepreneurial initiative.

Never in recent memory have the US and world more urgently needed new solutions to basic human and social needs. This is a time for innovation, new business and service models, new ways of financing – in short, new and better ways to create value for people in need and markets in distress. While government action is essential, much of the burden of recovery will fall on individuals and small businesses, whether they are starting fresh or trying to restart businesses that fell victim to the economic shutdown.

We will look less at the wreckage of this spring and summer, and more at the necessity and opportunity for entrepreneurs to do what they do best – figure out ways to generate financially viable means to offer people valued products and services that improve their lives. This course is not for the faint-hearted, but it will give students an opportunity to think boldly about how our country and world can tap into that entrepreneurial spirit to drive economic growth and social progress in the years ahead.

We will investigate potential models of post-Covid social ventures (whether for-profit or nonprofit), engage with entrepreneurs on the frontlines, as well as design and explore students’ own ideas for new market-based solutions to the challenges this disease has posed across the economic and demographic spectrum. The course will combine a portfolio of individual assignments and team projects around those activities – all in the interest of understanding this new global agenda and contributing to reshaping our entrepreneurial response to it.