Thanks to a $25 million gift from Jonathan M. Nelson ’77, announced in late January, Brown launched a multidisciplinary center for entrepreneurship. The center will coordinate and serve as a location for Brown’s broad menu of existing entrepreneurship activities, both curricular and cocurricular. It will also work to fill in any gaps in the curriculum, ensuring that there’s a program that’s both rigorous and comprehensive, says Provost Richard Locke. “Entrepreneurship is a phenomenon that builds on a variety of different disciplines,” Locke says. The center will get “cutting-edge scholars,” he says, from fields such as finance, sociology, and psychology, to help students learn and think in a deep, sophisticated way about how those disciplines relate to entrepreneurship.
The combination of Brown’s liberal arts and interdisciplinary approach—RISD students will be able to participate—will make for a unique program, Locke says. The center’s approach will combine social entrepreneurship and business entrepreneurship, to the benefit of both types of students, he says. Social entrepreneurs will have their peers question them on such crucial matters as accounting and finance, while business types will face questions about the deeper issues around their profit-making ideas. The breadth of subject matter will also make Brown’s approach unique and exciting. “In business school you wouldn’t have people thinking about arts and entrepreneurship and music and entrepreneurship,” he says. “Brown can do that.”