Leading the Integration of Faith and Entrepreneurship (L.I.F.E.) Research Lab

 Dr. Jim Friedman working with students at Cintrifuse
Student writing on sticky note on classroom wall
 Students listening to Dr. Tim Holcomb lecture
 Sticky notes covering David Eyman's office walls
 Executive talking to participants and other executives at Startup Pitch Competition

L.I.F.E. (Leading the Integration of Faith and Entrepreneurship) was established at Miami University in 2018, led by the John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship. The goal is to provide practically relevant, academically rigorous knowledge at the intersection of faith and entrepreneurship. It includes the L.I.F.E Research Lab, the L.I.F.E. Research Conference, the L.I.F.E. academic course, and the L.I.F.E. student group.

L.I.F.E. is open to all faiths and interfaith examinations and fits seamlessly into the Institute’s passion for interdisciplinary, practice-based entrepreneurship education. Considering 80% of the world’s population claims a religious affiliation, we recognized a need and opportunity to understand how and why religious beliefs may influence entrepreneurship. A growing movement of entrepreneurs and investors are integrating their faith with their ventures as evidenced by an emerging ecosystem of faith-based accelerators, entrepreneurs, and investors. Now, universities are beginning to complement this movement including Princeton University’s Faith and Work Initiative. L.I.F.E. represents one of the first efforts in higher education to advance the intersection of faith and entrepreneurship.

“I wanted to make this happen because it is the only place where I feel like I’m understood. Faith and entrepreneurship are two very personal, challenging journeys and people who are passionate about both face a unique set of challenges. We need others who know what we are going through to support us. I’ve already seen so much fruit come from this organization, the people in it, and the people who support it. I’m excited to see how it continues to grow.” --Maryanne Smith, Cofounder of L.I.F.E. Student Group

“I felt like I was lacking purpose in the business school. I was tired of running after something that never seemed to fulfill me, and I felt like I was living two completely separate lives: one of career ambitions and goals and one of Christ-centered spirituality. It was exhausting trying to do both well. LIFE brings both of those things together, and as a group, we tackle the issues of that separation. It has completely changed my perspective on how to actively pursue Christ while simultaneously challenging myself to grow in my career. With LIFE, it feels like an immense weight has been lifted off my shoulders because I finally realized that this is not an either/or situation — it’s both.” --Brett Schaaf, Cofounder of L.I.F.E. Student Group

 “I'm a Miami student who has spent the past 4 years inundated by Miami's culture that can often feel centered around success, drive, resume-building, etc -- working hard and playing hard, for lack of a better way to put it. This has been hard as a Christian, as it seems antithetical to the Jesus way - a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light and work that is meaningful and purposeful. In light of my awareness of 'what's wrong,' I have already been so encouraged by this course, the curriculum, and the class meeting so far. It seems like I'll gain practical skills on how to integrate life with work instead of living a segmented life, and how my whole, integrated life can be glorifying to God.” --Mary Culp, Class of 2021