Resource:How to work with faculty to create new course offerings

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Creating new course offerings on your campus can be an intimidating task full of red tape and roadblocks in the form of funding, support, and finances. However, when pulled off, a new class on campus has the unique opportunity of being able to access a large number of students, encouraging progress in innovative and entrepreneurial activities, while giving the students the credits they need to further their degree. To create a new course means working with faculty, advisor boards, financial advisors, and other students. Balancing these demands can be very difficult, so University Innovation Fellow Jake Keasbey of Norwich University answered some questions about his own experience and how to help other fellows pursue similar changes on their campus.

Order of Events

1) Identify the need or purpose of a new course on your campus

2) Become a student ambassodor for the course

3) Contact faculty to put you in touch with those in positions to make changes

4) Construct the class curriculum and locate professor(s)

5) Find funding for the program

6) Spread the word

7) Make adjustments


Before there any steps are taken towards creating a new course, their needs to be a purpose or measurable goal in place to steer the progress of the class in the right direction. At Norwich University their was a growing desire from successful alumni to expand and improve the Entrepreneurial programs on campus. This encouragement started the ball rolling to look into potential solutions and ways to improve. As a traditionally military focused school, there was little need desire or ability for students to start up businesses after college. However, now with increasing civilian numbers, demand is growing. Additional reasearch from faculty showed that a course introducing entrepreneurialism could be a desirable addition to the class offerings. From the expressed interest of graduated alumni, the opinion of current students was able to identified. Now, a course could be developed to suit their and the university's needs.

Norwich University Curriculum

The course content represented in this newly minted class needs to reflect the purpose for which it was created. For Norwich University, this meant modeling the course after the popular business pitch T.V show Sharktank. Students spend the majority of their semester researching a topic and creating a business plan around it. At the end of the course, their final grade is determined by a panel of judges evaluating the progress and quality of their proposed startup.

Student Participation

Student participation is a necessity for any course to survive in a university. Before you can begin working with professors, an advocate for the goal needs to step forward and gain student interest in the topic. Jake acted as a student ambassador for Norwich's course and frequented business lecture halls, major specific study areas, and public gathering places to give the program a face to the name and collect contact information to keep students informed of sign up deadlines and other devolopments.

Student Ambassador(s)

After approval for a new course has been granted, it is necessary for the fellow or other student representatives to bring the class to the attention of their fellow students. Enough students will have to have already shown enough interest in the class for it to have made it this far. However, for a course to grow in popularity, a group of student ambassadors for the class needs to reach out and contact other students in their university.

Faculty Cooperation

As the title of this guide indicates, working with faculty is one of the main parts in creating a new course. Faculty have the know-how of the inner workings of the school system, and can get a course funded, approved, planned, and taught faster than any coalition of students. However, this also means working with and adjusting your plans to fit these professionals' opinions and advice. One of the reasons the program at Norwich is able to exist is because of the support of multiple faculty members. Without their assistance, the work facing a group of students can seem too daunting for pursuit. Thus, here are a few of the ways that faculty can help you.

1) Curriculum

The curriculum in the course "Intro to Entrepreneurship" that Jake worked to implement was based off of a pre-existing business class, but tweaked enough to give it the innovative flare of entrepreneurial studies that warranted making it a separate course. Having a model to base a newly formed class' curriculum on is helpful. It allows those in charge to edit and adjust the elements that weren't working in the previous course and make the improvements visible in the form of a new class.

2) Financial Support

In addition to helping form the curriculum, faculty such as professors are the closest access most students have to grant money. Inspired by outside interest, Norwich's program was funded and back internally through the university.

3) Management

One of the potentially biggest hurdles to conquer in implementing a new class is finding someone to teach it. Just like the other complex issues in this process, this too can be made easier with faculty assistance. The current professors will likely know if someone would be interested in teaching the course and can put you in contact with them.

Interdisciplinary Involvement

The program at Norwich University is a class offered through the business college. However, Jake is an engineer and acknowledges the fact that it can make it difficult for many engineering students to participate in this new development. In this case, if it is currently not in the cards to create a multidisciplinary course at your university, do the best you can. For Jake this means that although the class is business oriented now, in the future the students exiting the class with potentially valid startup ambitions can team up with engineering students in a maker space that is currently in the works.

Words of Advice (Tips & Tricks)

New course availabilities for students to register in should be announced as early as possible. Announcing courses weeks after most students have finalized their schedules can make it difficult to encourage them to join the class.

Find students and faculty who are at least as passionate about encouraging the growth of I & E on your campus as you are. Working with them will make the entire process easier and allow for word about the course to spread faster.

Start with who you know. Talk to your favorite professor and discuss your idea for a new course and let them help you by putting you in touch with the right people who can make the change.

Lastly, Have Fun!