Entrepreneurship, Problem Solving, and Social Impact

What makes a business successful? Who becomes an entrepreneur? What can the best businesses teach us about successful problem-solving, team-building, and leadership? Can we use entrepreneurship to solve social problems?

In this two-week course, students interested in entrepreneurship and business receive an in-depth immersion into the mindset and skill sets of the entrepreneur: how entrepreneurs are people who come to see opportunities in problems; how they devise solutions as products and services; how they build new companies and other ventures around those solutions; how they grow those ventures; how anyone can learn to be more entrepreneurial; and how entrepreneurship can be a mechanism for creating sustainable social change.

Students are introduced to concepts like human-centered design, design thinking, and intrapreneurship, as well as how to be innovative in a large organization and a small startup. In addition, students use the case study method to gain insight into social business models (for-profit, non-profit, hybrid), analyzing and devising strategies to improve the efficacy of these ventures.

Week One – Entrepreneurship Fundamentals focuses on the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurship and feature hands-on skills-building workshops in several key areas of entrepreneurial thinking and venture building. The week will conclude with student presentations on their venture ideas.

Week Two – Social Entrepreneurship examines the unique needs of “double- and/or triple-bottom-line” enterprises, learning how social entrepreneurs launch ventures to address deeply-felt human needs. Definitions will be discussed and debated and students will use their new skillsets to build their own social enterprise.

In addition to coursework, both weeks feature guest lecturers and field trips so students can hear from and meet with real entrepreneurs.

Academic Directors

Laura Hirschfeld Hollis

Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is a “double domer” (’83, ’86 J.D.), an associate professor of teaching in the accountancy department at the Mendoza College of Business, and a concurrent associate professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches courses in business law and entrepreneurship.

Professor Hollis has 22 years of experience in higher education, 12 of which have been focused on entrepreneurship. Prior to her faculty appointments at Notre Dame, Professor Hollis served as director of the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship at Notre Dame and as program director of the Technology Entrepreneur Center and Associate Director of the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the colleges of business and engineering at the University of Illinois. She has over a decade of experience in the development and delivery of entrepreneurship courses, seminars and workshops for multiple audiences. Her expertise is in entrepreneurship and public policy, technology commercialization, economic development, and general business law.

Earlier in her academic career, Professor Hollis was a tenured associate professor of law at the University of Detroit Mercy, and a visiting professor of law at Michigan State University. In addition to her legal publications in the Temple Law Review, Cardozo Law Review and the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, she has been a freelance political writer for The Detroit News and Townhall.com.

Professor Hollis has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service, and contributions to entrepreneurship education, including twice being selected as Professor of the Year at the University of Detroit Mercy. She is married to Jess Hollis, a musician, voiceover artist, and audio engineer, and they have two children, Alistair and Celeste.

Karen Slaggert

Karen Slaggert

Karen Slaggert is the associate director of the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship in the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. Since 2007, she has managed the Irish Entrepreneurs Network, a select group of Notre Dame alumni who provide support for aspiring Notre Dame students, alumni, and faculty entrepreneurs. Karen also provides oversight for Notre Dame’s annual McCloskey Business Plan Competition, a Gigot Center signature event awarding more than $300,000 in cash and in-kind prizes to aspiring Notre Dame entrepreneurs. She also manages experiential learning opportunities related to entrepreneurship, and serves as an associate teaching professor in the Mendoza College of Business, teaching in the areas of management and strategic foresight. Karen has more 30 years of experience in academic leadership roles at Rollins College, Babson College, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Notre Dame.

Karen holds a B.A. in economics and mathematics from Rollins College and an MBA from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College and has completed post-graduate work in economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.