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Applying the Liberal Arts to Entrepreneurship

In mid-January, 30 Lewis & Clark students hailing from all corners of the globe and reflecting the gamut of academic disciplines returned to campus a week early from winter break to do a deep dive into entrepreneurship and leadership.

Winterim, the flagship program of the John E. and Susan S. Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership, gives students an opportunity to explore entrepreneurship from the ground up. Working in small teams, students identify a problem, research and develop a solution, and take part in a pitch competition on the final day. Along the way, they are assisted by 45 off-campus leaders and professionals—many of them alumni—who serve as speakers, mentors, and judges.

“The common thread of all Bates Center experiences is engaging an entrepreneurial mindset to apply the adaptability, critical thinking, and problem solving of liberal arts in new and ambiguous situations,” says Chrys Hutchings, the center’s associate director. “The 15 talks and workshops include design thinking, business model canvas, productivity and decision making, personal financial literacy, sales, and presentation skills. But the real magic is the networking that happens between the students and the leadership community in Portland and beyond. Students have received jobs from these connections.”

Led by Professor of Psychology Brian Detweiler- Bedell, the Bates Center is designed to help students translate their liberal arts training to be leaders for impact. It is open to all years and all majors, regardless of prior participation in programming and classes. For the second year in a row, Winterim enrollment is at maximum capacity. Over 40 percent of participating students this year are women and over 50 percent are students of color.

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