Innovation Studies

Michael Halvorson, Ph.D., Director

The Innovation Studies program focuses on nurturing and developing original thought, transformative ideas, and breakthrough products in a team-driven context. The minor combines PLU’s distinctive offerings in the liberal arts and the professional schools, as well as programming offered by the Benson Chair in Business and Economic History. The Innovation Studies minor is especially supportive of, and connected to, PLU initiatives that encourage diversity, justice, and sustainability.

Foundation courses in the minor build essential skills to understand the process of innovation in historical and ethical contexts and to learn fundamental concepts in economic theory, art & design, communication, and business management. A concluding seminar requires that students work in teams to envision their own innovative solutions to ethical concerns, pressing problems, and business opportunities.

The minor’s flexible curriculum enables students to integrate their major into a rich interdisciplinary framework and to leverage their current proficiencies while discovering new ones. When students enter the workplace, they will have the preparation to think creatively, form teams, engage the marketplace, and collaborate across fields and departments.


20 semester hours

Students are expected to work closely with Innovation Studies faculty advisors to ensure the most personalized programs and instruction possible. In addition, outside-the-classroom activities form an important part of this interdisciplinary minor, which emphasizes teamwork, leadership, and collaborative problem solving. These activities include meetings in the Innovation Studies Makerspace, lectures, field trips, and contact with the Seattle/Tacoma business community.

Innovation Studies minors must complete a minimum of 20 credit hours in the following areas:

  • Introduction to Innovation Studies (4)
  • Innovation Principles (8)
  • Elective (4)
  • INOV 350: Innovation Seminar (4)

Students may complete curriculum requirements in any order and pathways into the program overlap with many majors and minors on campus. The only requirement is that the Innovation Seminar may not be taken until the Introduction to Innovation Studies and Innovation Principles coursework is complete. The course selected for Introduction to Innovation Studies may not be reused as an Elective course.

Up to eight (8) approved credits from supporting majors or minors can be applied to the Innovation Studies minor.

At least Junior status is required before students take the concluding Innovation Seminar.

Students may transfer in a maximum of 8 semester hours towards the Innovation Studies minor, unless they have permission from the program chair.

All courses counted towards the minor must be completed with grades of C- or higher and with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher in those courses.

Program Requirements

Introduction to Innovation Studies
4 semester hours

Students select one of the following courses to receive an introduction to the discipline of Innovation Studies and key themes in the program. Course must be completed before taking the Innovation Seminar.

  • HIST 121: History in Video Games (4)
  • HIST 248: Innovation, Ethics, and Society (4)
  • PHIL 248: Innovation, Ethics, and Society (4)
  • HIST 346: History of Innovation and Technology (4)

Innovation Principles
8 semester hours

Students select one course from two of the three Innovation Principles subject areas below to anchor their understanding of innovation in an interdisciplinary framework. Courses must be completed before taking the Innovation Seminar.

Economic Principles:

  • ECON 101: Principles of Microeconomics (4)

Business Principles:

  • BUSA 201: Introduction to Business in the Global Environment (4)

Design and Communication Principles:

  • ARTD 110: Graphic Design 1 (4)
  • COMA 215: Writing in Communication Careers (4)

4 semester hours

Select at least one course from the following list of electives for deeper study in the process of innovation, creativity, problem solving, and related proficiencies:

  • ARTD 202: 3D Design (4)
  • ARTD 310: Graphic Design 3 (4)
  • BUSA 340: Non-Profit Management (4)
  • BUSA 358: Entrepreneurship (4)
  • COMA 361: Public Relations: Principles and Practices (4)
  • DATA 133: Introduction to Computational and Data Science (4)
  • CSCI 144: Introduction to Computer Science (4)
  • ENGL 323: Writing for Public and Professional Settings (4)
  • HIST 121: History in Video Games (4)
  • HIST 247: U.S. Capitalism: From Railroads to Netflix (4)
  • HIST 248: Innovation, Ethics, and Society (4)
  • HIST 346: History of Innovation and Technology (4)
  • PHIL 225: Business Ethics (4)
  • POLS 345: Government and Public Policy (4)
  • PSYC 148: Minds, Brains, and Computer: Introduction to Cognitive Science (4)
  • PSYC 448: Cognitive Psychology (4)

Innovation Seminar
4 semester hours

  • INOV 350: Innovation Seminar (4)

Innovation Studies (INOV) - Undergraduate Courses

INOV 350 : Innovation Seminar

Hands-on seminar for Innovation Studies minors that exposes students to the conceptual, ethical, and logistic issues involved in developing and implementing an innovative idea, process, product, or campaign. Students form teams; analyze artistic, technological, and entrepreneurial factors; consider issues such as feasibility and market timing, and then present their proposal to the PLU community. Prerequisite: Junior status and permission of instructor. (4)

INOV 387 : Special Topics in Innovation Studies

This course provides specific opportunities for students to examine new or emerging topics in the discipline of Innovation Studies. (4)

INOV 491 : Independent Study

Provides individual undergraduate students with advanced study not available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as IS: followed by the specific title designated by the instructor in consultation with the student. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. (1 to 4)

INOV 495 : Internship

Involvement in an ongoing research project in Innovation Studies or off-campus work supervised by a faculty member. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as Intern: followed by the specific title designated by the instructor in consultation with the student. May be repeated for up to 8 semester hours. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. (1 to 8)