UVA Darden Launches ‘IDEA’ Course

First-year students at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business will tackle some of the business world’s biggest problems as part of the new “Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship in Action” (IDEA) course, which debuted February 23rd.

In this class, teams of students will work with leading companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies in a variety of sectors to solve live field challenges over the next several weeks.

“We want Darden students to develop unparalleled aptitude for real-world problem solving and effective decision making.”

“IDEA is a perfect addition to Darden’s immersive, experiential learning culture,” says Professor Mike Lenox, Darden senior associate dean and chief strategy officer.

Devised in part out of student interest in more experiential learning opportunities, the new course is now required for students in the Class of 2017.

Participants will learn problem-solving skills and project management tools such as design thinking, agile project management, lean startup and data analytics. At the end of the course, students will be able to comfortably handle complex, often ambiguous problems for which there may not be one right answer.

Thirteen companies are participating in the inaugural IDEA course, including:

  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
  • Capital One
  • Land O’Lakes Inc.
  • LinkedIn with the Markle Foundation

Sample challenges for these companies include:

  • How can we improve the market for employers looking to hire skill-based, middle-skill employees? (LinkedIn/Markle Foundation)
  • What role should genetically modified organisms play in feeding the world in a responsible manner? (Land O’ Lakes Inc.)
  • What is the future of rewards within financial services? (Capital One)
  • How can oncology practices integrate palliative care services in a financially viable manner? (American Society of Clinical Oncology)

At the conclusion of the seven-week program, students present detailed solutions to leadership of the sponsoring company.

“In our increasingly turbulent health care environment, sharp business acumen and novel approaches to real-life problems are critically needed in the delivery of high-quality cancer care,” says Dr. Julie M. Vose, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

“ASCO is delighted to participate with Darden on this innovative business curriculum, and we look forward to learning how the students address their assigned challenges.”


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