business of creative enterprises

Emerson College Introduces Business of Creative Enterprises Major

In a previous article, we looked at some of the driving forces behind post-secondary entrepreneurship programs, listing schools such as MIT and Stanford as innovators paving the way for on-campus entrepreneurship opportunities.

Emerson College, a school for communication and the arts in downtown Boston, is joining this list of institutions striving to embrace the future with their new Business and Creative Enterprises program, launching in the 2016-2017 academic year.

Emerson already offers two minors in the same vein under the direction of Lu Ann Reeb—the Business Studies Minor gives students a foundation in how businesses operate, while the Emerson Experience in Entrepreneurship (known as E3) allows students to cultivate their own ideas and learn how to start their own companies. Aside from the two minors, Emerson also began an accelerator called Emerson Launch, a two-year program that helps students create business plans, which they will be able to test in the second year.

The new Business of Creative Enterprises (BCE) major is a somewhat separate entity. There will be some overlap in courses with the minor, but there will also be at least eight brand-new BCE-specific courses.

One of these courses, for first-semester freshmen, will be an introduction to the creative industries. Students will learn what it means to work in these fields, how the creative economy works, and what opportunities are available after graduation. The second-semester course will be more about fostering collaboration and creativity.

Yuri Cataldo, executive-in-residence in the Marketing Communication Department and founder of IndigoH2O, will be heading up the program next fall.

“I see this program as a pragmatic type of art degree. It really focuses on what’s happening in the industry right now, and how to be a contributor,” Cataldo says. “Part of my goal in this is to get students out into internships, into the industry, so they get hands-on experience and can be prepared for when they actually graduate.”

Acknowledging that current students should also benefit from the new program, Cataldo is also working with Emerson’s Individually Designed Interdisciplinary Program (IDIP) to create a curriculum for current freshmen and sophomores. In addition, he’s putting together summer courses and workshops to teach students the practical aspects of life after college, stressing on job interviewing techniques, networking, and professionalism, as well as the less commonly taught skill of what to look for when hiring others.

Cataldo says the goal is to teach each student how to “become a productive member in an organization.” He goes on to note that, “Sometimes, you just need to tell students who haven’t had jobs before that this is how it works. All of us have different experiences, so the class will encapsulate that.”

Entrepreneurship is certainly the big buzz word these days, but Cataldo finds the definition of the term has gotten lost somewhere along the way.

“To me, [entrepreneurship] means creating your own way.”

He draws on the works of James Altucher, entrepreneur and author, who uses the phrase “choose yourself.” Cataldo describes this as the need to “invest in yourself, and find your individual unique talents and abilities” in order to navigate the rapidly changing landscape of technology and the economy. “Whether that means entrepreneurship or working for a company,” says Cataldo, “it doesn’t quite matter. It’s how you bring your individual talents to everything.”

The BCE program is not geared toward entrepreneurship; instead, its purpose is to teach students how to make a living from their art.

“Artists throughout the centuries have never really been taught how to successfully manage things. This is just a step in the right direction, that we’re going to help students, help artists find that happy medium of art and business.”

The world is evolving quickly, and integrating technology into such a program is just as important as everything else Cataldo hopes students will learn. It’s something the education system as a whole currently lacks, even though there are some schools who are doing a good job of integrating it into their curricula. There are many different terms for the idea and ways to approach it, but the purpose is the same: to better prepare students.

For artists especially, the failure to embrace technology will “leave them in the dust.” A large focus of the Business of Creative Enterprises will be to teach students how to integrate technology into their art and use it to their advantage.

“The way the current educational system has been set up…it was created back in the industrial age,” says Cataldo. “So I don’t believe it has fully caught up with where we are in modern society.” Instead, online courses and open-source ideas are filling in the gap as bigger institutions need some time to make a full transition, though they’ve definitely started the journey.

There’s a long way to go, but it’s a growing trend that has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

Suchita Chadha

Suchita Chadha

Suchita is a student at Emerson College, where she is pursuing a BFA in Writing, Literature, & Publishing for poetry with a Global & Post-Colonial Studies minor. She has been published in Verge Magazine (Canada) and Affairs Today (UK).