January 31, 2024

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Education Beyond Academic Boundaries

Bridging Borders: Connecting Duke Global Health Students and International Entrepreneurs for Transformative Solutions

The status quo is not good enough to solve global health challenges. The world needs collaborative and innovative solutions.

One powerful solution is the Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) Practicum. This unique alliance links students in the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) Education Program with Innovations in Healthcare (IiH) network innovators to address critical health, social, and environmental problems around the world. 

This collaborative effort fosters a diverse range of perspectives while harnessing the passion and skills of the next generation of healthcare leaders. 

DGHI students present their final deliverables for innovators during the Student Showcase

About the course 

Launched in 2019, the I&E Practicum enables a collaboration between global health students and innovators extending beyond academic boundaries. This approach enhances the students’ educational experience while making a tangible contribution to the development of innovative, sustainable solutions. 

Working in multidisciplinary teams, students work with carefully selected innovators to solve an issue of strategic importance currently confronting the organization. 

The course enhances students’ abilities to explore and understand complex global health problems while also actively contributing to the development and scaling of innovative approaches to address those problems. As a result, students gain: 

  • An increased ability to recognize and critically assess innovation and social enterprise strategies; 

  • A greater understanding of the challenges of designing, launching, scaling, and sustaining an innovation or entrepreneurial enterprise;  

  • Improved consulting and advisory skills, including project planning, problem definition, hypothesis- driven issue analysis, ecosystem analysis, design thinking, business model design, formulation of and presentation of strategic and tactical recommendations, and client relationship management. 

We were very connected with [the innovator’s] mission, making the partnership feel meaningful and impactful.” -Spring 2022 I&E Practicum student 


A Lasting Impact

The I&E Practicum has a significant impact on participating students and innovators. The partnership enriches the educational experience while building a solid foundation for successful collaborations in the future.  

This course continues to prove that bridging classroom education with practical experience enhances what both students and innovators can achieve. Through this mutually beneficial relationship: 

  • Students are better able to adapt and apply their knowledge and skills of innovation and entrepreneurship; 

  • Students increase their capacity for effective and thoughtful entrepreneurial leadership throughout their careers; 

  • Organizations gain access to and help develop talented young leaders with innovative ideas in a range of disciplines; 

  • Organizations increase their capacity to pursue their missions in an entrepreneurial and sustainable manner, establish contacts with other innovators, and strengthen their relationships with Innovations in Healthcare at Duke University. 

I would not change anything about our experience with the students. I enjoyed working with the group that was assigned to us and they seemed interested in the assignment and wanted to produce quality work. - Racha Yehia, Care 2 Communities, a participating innovator in the I&E Practicum

Through this collaborative approach, the educational experience is enhanced while directly benefiting the innovators that offer their time and partnership. We are proud of the positive impact the course has created and look forward to another inspiring semester. Because everyone deserves to thrive.