Major Exploration: Cultural Entrepreneurship (CUE)

By: McKenzie

The University of Minnesota Duluth is the home of a very unique major. Nestled in the College of Liberal Arts is a program called Cultural Entrepreneurship (CUE, pronounced like “queue”) which stands proudly within the Department of World Languages and Cultures. However, this still leaves people wondering, what is CUE?

Exploring a major in cultural entrepreneurship

What is Cultural Entrepreneurship?
This is a frequently asked question. Many folks know what “Cultural” means and what “Entrepreneurship” is, however few know what they are when the words come together to become Cultural Entrepreneurship. Cultural Entrepreneurship is much like social entrepreneurship, but what’s the distinction? Social Entrepreneurship disrupts existing systems while Cultural Entrepreneurship disrupts belief systems.

Applying the Design Thinking Model
Design Thinking is a cyclical model used for identifying, understanding, and unraveling problems. The model is used primarily in Cultural Entrepreneurship to develop products and/or services which best alleviate problems faced by the organization’s customers. Students learn to implement the process through practice in their coursework. Each semester they invest their time into projects for the Cultural Entrepreneurship Fair which allows students to have cultivated their problem-solving skills as well as given them the opportunity to produce a tangible product/service for the community.

The Process:

  • Empathize: Get to know your customers. Research what they want and what will benefit them best.
  • Define: Identify your customer’s problems based on your research.
  • Ideate: Conjure up as many ideas as possible, even if they’re outlandish. No idea is a bad idea because any idea could lead to the best one.
  • Prototype: Create representations of your idea.
  • Test: Bring your prototypes to your customers to conduct further research.
  • Implement: Actualize your product/service for your customer

Remember the process is cyclical. Repeating each step more than once isn’t just likely, but ultimately necessary. In order to build the finest product, you must work for your customer and their needs by constantly reevaluating how things could be done better.

circle graphic defining the design thinking model

Building a product/service (CUE Fair)
Cultural Entrepreneurship majors begin developing products and services early on in their college career. Students learn to implement the design thinking model and incorporate it into their process. Each semester, the CUE program hosts the CUE Fair for its students. The fair gives students the opportunity to present their work to business professionals, many of whom are based in the local community, in order to receive feedback and make connections with other entrepreneurs. Furthermore, some students will apply for the UMD Shark Tank, instead of participating in the fair, and selected students compete for money by presenting their project to a panel of professionals.

The CUE Fair event is listed each semester on the Cultural Entrepreneurship Facebook page.

Securing an internship
Internships are an important piece of the Cultural Entrepreneurship major. Many students work with local business, entrepreneurs, and startups to learn integral skills for their post-graduate careers. This work prepares students for their future careers–whether it be building their own business or following a different path.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read McKenzie’s other posts

Photo Sources: Unsplash | Jess Watters; Nielsen Norman Group

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