Babson College Overhauls Award-Winning Required First-Year Entrepreneurship Course

Babson College has introduced a new version of its award-winning Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME) course that requires all first-year undergraduate students to start and run a business and to donate profits to charity.

For more than 20 years, FME has trained student teams of entrepreneurs in the art of conceiving, launching, and managing a company. Now, in FME 2.0 they will work in smaller teams and receive far more training than ever before in management and teamwork issues.

“Today’s world needs passionate, skilled, and motivated leaders,” said Babson’s Undergraduate Dean Scott Moore. “Our new FME has just 13 students per team affording greater accountability, and allowing everyone to actively participate in the life of a real business.”

FME 2.0 also expands the learning from the classroom to students’ co-curricular life. When discussing conflict resolution in FME, for example, students will work to apply what they have learned to their encounters in the residence halls.

Moore said the new FME places greater emphasis on topics like “Who am I?” and understanding self in the broader context of society. “Before our students can deal with the many issues involved in running a venture, they must understand the qualities that make up a successful leader, know how to manage group dynamics and run effective meetings, and be confident in their abilities to handle stress.”

FME’s Distinct Phases
The Exploration phase focuses on the creative process, idea generation, and team building, and requires students to identify their own personal values, interests, and leadership style. Teams of students generate two or three high-potential ideas that will genuinely contribute real social and economic value. Venture concepts are ‘rocket pitched’ and once approved, move on to the second phase.

In the Pursuit phase, students conduct qualitative and quantitative marketing research, compile financial projections, and determine whether the venture is a socially responsible endeavor. If it is, they deliver a feasibility presentation and submit a request for funding. Babson provides a startup loan of up to $3,000. Teams then advance to the Launch phase.

The Launch phase is where teams get down to business. Student teams operate their ventures while continuing to learn about marketing communications, social media, financial controls, and business operations. This real-world launch intensifies as students hone their interpersonal skills in order to successfully work together, leverage diversity, function as a team, remain positive, and sometimes deal with ethical challenges. End-of-year presentations provide an opportunity for students to reflect on lessons learned about themselves, their business, and to where their future career paths will lead them.

Additional FME Learning Experiences
Required Charity Work: Each FME team is required to partner with a community-based, not-for-profit to engage in a service-learning project, and to contribute profits from the business to the organization at the end of the course. Over the last 11 years, FME student businesses have donated more than $435,000 to local charities.

Required Coaching Program: All students participate in Babson’s Coaching for Leadership and Teamwork Program where they receive feedback on their leadership, teamwork, decision-making, and communications skills as well as their ethical awareness in business situations.

This effort is part of the ongoing redesign of the Babson undergraduate curriculum taking place during the next several years. Babson’s Graduate Program introduced its redesigned MBA curriculum in 2011.

About Babson College
Babson College is the educator, convener, and thought leader for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds™. The College is a dynamic living and learning laboratory, where students, faculty, and staff work together to address the real-world problems of business and society—while at the same time evolving our methods and advancing our programs. We shape the leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge and the skills and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams in a common purpose to create economic and social value. As we have for nearly a half-century, Babson continues to advance Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® as the most positive force on the planet for generating sustainable economic and social value.

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SOURCE: Babson College