UVA Darden Students Partner With Top Organizations in New IDEA Experiential Course

By Dave Hendrick

First Year students at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business are partnering with leading organizations to solve some of the business world’s biggest challenges.

As part of the new “Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship in Action” (IDEA) course beginning 23 March, teams of Darden students are working with leading companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies in a variety of sectors to solve live field challenges of great importance over the course of seven weeks.

The IDEA program represents a significant enhancement to the residential MBA and is a required course for students in the Class of 2017.

The new course, which was devised in part out of student interest in additional experiential learning opportunities, aims to make Darden students optimally prepared to solve problems and devise solutions in the real world.

Armed with a solid foundation of problem solving skills and project management tools such as effectuation, design thinking, agile project management, lean startup and data analytics, students leave the course increasingly comfortable handling complex, often ambiguous problems for which there may not be one right answer.

“IDEA is a perfect addition to Darden’s immersive, experiential learning culture,” said Professor Mike Lenox, Darden senior associate dean and chief strategy officer. “We want Darden students to develop unparalleled aptitude for real-world problem solving and effective decision making. Ultimately, students, our partner organizations and prospective employers will see benefits from the new course.”

“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,” said Dr. Julie M. Vose, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). “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.”

Participating companies in the inaugural IDEA course include:

  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Capital One
  • Don8ation
  • Klöckner Pentaplast
  • Land O’Lakes Inc.
  • LinkedIn with the Markle Foundation
  • PBS
  • Pros, Incorporated with PGA Magazine
  • Save The Children
  • Tranlin
  • U.S. Small Business Administration
  • UVA Community Credit Union
  • VersaMe

Sample challenges 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 six-week program, students will present detailed solutions to leadership of the sponsoring company.

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About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Press Contact

David Hendrick
Associate Director, Editorial & Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia