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Berkeley, California — You might not expect a business school course to begin with students belting out Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer,” but at the University of California, Berkeley, Swift is not just a “tortured poet,” she’s a case study in how to build an empire.

“Taylor Swift is a phenomenon,” UC Berkeley senior Sejal Krishnan, a chemical engineering major, told CBS News. “Her tour has essentially revitalized so much of the economy and boosted the local economy everywhere she goes.”

Undergrads Sofia Lendahl and Miaad Bushala teach Artistry and Entrepreneurship: Taylor’s Version to 44 fellow students.

“Taylor is so strategic in all the things that she does,” Bushala said. “When you think of a brand, that’s all they ever want. They want loyal customers. And that’s what Taylor has.”

“There’s a reason top institutions are studying that,” Krishnan added. “They know it’s a trend.”

Along with UC Berkeley, several universities nationwide — including Harvard and Stanford — are offering classes on the so-called “Swift Effect” in departments ranging from English to political science and gender studies.

Swift’s successes and failures, including the battle to regain control of her master recordings, are part of the syllabus at UC Berkeley.

“We’ve also learned about some of the implications she’s had on legal issues, such as artist rights and ticketing legislation, which has been really impactful as well, because that’s not something you see every day,” said student Will Grischo, who is majoring in media studies and art history.

When asked how their families reacted to them taking a course on Taylor Swift?

“My parents were super thrilled,” Krishnan said. “My mom took me to the 1989 concert.”    

“They (my parents) were like, ‘You have to take this class, if it’s not now, never,'” said student Jessica Revolorio, a sociology major who is the first in her family to attend college in the U.S.

And Swift now has some students thinking even bigger.

“She’s incredibly fearless in the ways in which she doesn’t mind taking creative risks,” said student Angelique Zoile, who is studying business. “To me it’s like, climb the corporate ladder…I’ll end up as a manager in five years or so.” 

Zoile said she is more ready to take career risks because of this Swift-inspired class. 



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