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Entrepreneurship In Arts Programs

A veteran of Toronto literary circles is now at the centre of a pioneering movement in Atlantic Canadian university entrepreneurship.

Don Sedgwick’s career is steeped in publishing, having edited more than 100 books, ghost-written more than a dozen, and acted as agent for such luminaries as Scotiabank Giller Prize-winner Linden MacIntyre. Now he is spear-heading efforts by the University of King’s College to teach journalism students to start their own ventures, not just look for traditional media jobs.

“I teach in the New Ventures stream and will be attending a prestigious training session in the Lean Startup methodology in Santa Clara, California, in November,” said Sedgwick. “This will enable King’s to host additional events in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation.”

The university-within-a-university is working on an important facet of the startup movement – teaching entrepreneurship not just in business, engineering or computer schools, but also in general arts programs.

“As science and technology moves forward . . . it is abundantly clear that we also need to include the liberal arts in our entrepreneurship programs,” said Dalhousie University entrepreneurship professor Mary Kilfoil. “Since research has shown that ‘entrepreneurially minded’ individuals are spread out across the disciplines, it only stands to reason that there would be great contributors in the liberal arts.”

It’s not always an easy fit, largely because too few arts students think of themselves as budding entrepreneurs. But King’s is just one institution moving to introduce entrepreneurship to the humanities.

Professor Gary Markle, who teaches fashion at NSCAD University, has been looking into creating a fashion line for seniors, called Well Worn. Inspired by his mother, who has dementia, Markle wants to make clothes that are fashionable, comfortable, and easy to take on and off.

Back at King’s, the journalism school is involved in a range of activities to encourage new enterprises.

These include a masters program in new ventures, which includes an entrepreneurship course from the Dalhousie MBA program taught by Dr. David Roach.

King’s is also launching an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Society in September 2015.

“This society was actually active many years ago,” said Sedgwick. “But there is renewed interest in student projects in light of new technology and changing uses of media.”