The University of York has an excellent reputation for teaching and learning across a range of academic disciplines so it was logical for us to approach the growing demand for enterprising graduates by looking at our existing strengths. We believe that enterprise and innovation are concepts that are too important to be confined to business schools and York is a leader in developing teaching and learning based firmly in the curriculum of traditional academic subjects. Activity in this area got underway in 1999 with the support of the then DTI’s ‘Science Engineering Challenge’ funds which enabled science academics to develop teaching that asked students to consider the knowledge and skills of ‘how to get things done’ in the application of their discipline.
Students in the Biology department can now study modules taught by biology academics which concentrate on the commercial application of their science, incorporating aspects of intellectual property, market research and finance. Computer scientists can now be assessed on their appreciation of the commercial viability of their work as well as its engineering quality through undertaking modules alongside their third year projects.
In 2005 HEFCE recognised York’s existing work in this area by awarding it a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Enterprise (CETL-E) along with its ‘White Rose’ partners at the Universities of Sheffield and Leeds. The CETLE has allowed us to expand the development of enterprise and innovation learning into the arts and humanities. Social Policy students can now engage with the concepts underlying the rise of the social enterprise, examining how this growing sector can provide a sustainable alternative to both state and private sector provision.
Similarly, students of English Literature are exploring the role of author as entrepreneur and developing publishing concepts attractive to investment as part of their studies. Practical learning is achieved through giving students real responsibility. A team of students, primarily studying History of Art are attempting to develop up a space within one of the colleges to be an art gallery, seeking to create a self sustaining enterprise that can also serve wider social and educational needs.