For nearly 40 years, Kathryn Anthony has championed the role of architects in everything from starting businesses to tackling gender, race, and social issues through her teachings, public appearances, and books. Her Entrepreneurship in Design, Diversity, Environment and Behavior course at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign asks students to examine connections among its namesake topics, equipping them “with the tools to [become] more effective leaders in the profession and to become more influential citizens whose work can have a significant impact on society,” she explains. Students are required to leave—figuratively and physically—the strictures of design studio and interface with the university’s Gies College of Business and the College of Engineering Technology Entrepreneur Center, as well as enterprising peers and alumni in Illinois and around the globe.

Kathryn Anthony
Sergej Stoppel/LinesLab Kathryn Anthony

“This class provides a vehicle for students to jump-start alternative careers related to design,” Anthony says. Alum Jordan Buckner recently launched a company that makes caffeine-infused energy snacks called TeaSquares (get it?) which has been included in Forbes’ 2018 edition of its “30 Under 30, Food and Drink.” “Studying architecture was crucial to my success as an entrepreneur, and participating in this class helped me identify how to translate those skills into the business world,” Buckner says.

But the class also benefits those who choose to stay within architecture, giving students “an opportunity to see themselves as entrepreneurs in designing their own career trajectories,” Anthony says. Course alum and CannonDesign senior associate Annie Sit, AIA, says that Anthony challenges architectural education to “emphasize design in a physical sense” and demonstrates to students how entrepreneurial leaders “observe problems from their daily lives, utilize their skills to solve problems, and improve lives and create value for society.”

Another lesson Anthony harps on from day one of her classes is the necessity of networking, a core tenet of business schools but something rarely mentioned in design school, to the latter’s detriment. “You can help [others], they can help you,” she says, before breaking from the business mindset: “It’s important to have good friends.”

In recent years, Anthony has incorporated social media into her curricula, creating Facebook groups for her graduates to expand their communities and her own. Throughout her influential and far-reaching work, Anthony always returns to her timeless ethos: “Don’t go back to your architectural cocoon. And lend a hand to people who aren’t like you."

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