The Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) Program at Berea College creates a multi-year, learning experience for undergraduate students to practice and implement Entrepreneurial Leadership in rural communities of Central Appalachia. The EPG Program defines “Entrepreneurial Leadership” as:
“A process when one person or a group of people in a community originate an idea or innovation for a needed change and influence others in that community to commit to realizing that change, despite the presence of risk, ambiguity, or uncertainty”.
The EPG curriculum, teaching approach, and course of study are built from this central definition, and are expressed in the “EPG Cycle of Abilities for Entrepreneurial Leadership.” That cycle centers on six core learning goals of the program: engaging complexity and uncertainty; exploring values and ethical structures; facilitating group decisions; recognizing opportunity; mobilizing resources; and, advocating change.
During the first summer’s EPG Institute, the newly admitted cohort of twenty EPG Candidates practices this cycle of abilities by pursuing both social and commercial enterprises in a Central Appalachian, ARC community that has partnered with the EPG Program for that summer. EPG Candidates return to the program for a second summer to pursue a Directed Field Experience (DFE) over a ten-week period. The DFE allows each student – or sometimes student teams of two or three – to pursue an entrepreneurial leadership venture of their own design. The EPG faculty works with each student or student team to develop a successful DFE and to find a sponsoring individual or organization in the proposed community.
In the September following their second summer in the program, each EPG candidate presents a final portfolio that reviews her/his experience. Those who demonstrate clear learning and development in applying the Cycle of Abilities during that final presentation, and during the full EPG Program, are awarded the distinction of EPG Fellow.
The key partners in the EPG summer internship program are: student interns, agency supervisors, academic sponsors, EPG Staff and the Berea College Office of Internships. The ideal internship combines learning, labor and service. It matches a student’s individual learning plan with EPG program goals, expectations of academic sponsors and a need or opportunity identified by the agency supervisor.
The James Bowling Entrepreneurial Internship program is distinct from other internship programs at Berea College in that a student must successfully complete the EPG Summer Institute before being eligible to participate in the program.
The intensity and rigor of the Summer Institute helps prepare students for the challenges that internships can pose and help to provide a shared framework for student learning. Interns are encouraged to share their experiences with one another through an orientation session, online discussions and final presentations. EPG summer interns receive one course credit for working full-time for a 10-week period that begins the first week of June. They also receive a stipend for their service, which is funded through the EPG internship endowment.