School:Berea College

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Berea is a private liberal arts college, in Berea, Kentucky that differentiates itself by its ‘free tuition’ promise,  its rigorous undergraduate and its labor programs. Founded as the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, Berea admits only academically promising students, who have limited economic resources, especially students from Appalachia. All students at Berea work at least 10 hours per week in more than 130 departments and organizations on and off campus.

Entrepreneurship at Berea College has manifested itself in different academic and labor activities on campus such as the General Studies Program, Service-Learning Program, Active-Learning Experience. Most distinctively, the Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) Program has been the leading department in educating students about entrepreneurship.

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Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Academics

I&E is integrated into various coursework offered by the Agriculture and Natural Resources, Art, Business Administration, Communication, Computer Science, General Studies, Education, Sustainability and Environmental Studies, Technology and Applied Design and Theatre departments. All the courses are listed in the Berea College Landscape Canvas (link).

Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG)

  • EPG Summer Institute: The EPG Summer Institute is an 8-week entrepreneurial leadership program at Berea College. Each summer, a cohort of 20 students are selected through a competitive application process to participate in the program. The Summer Institute has a distinctive teaching approach; it focuses on the EPG Cycle of Abilities for Entrepreneurial Leadership: engaging complexity and uncertainty, exploring values and ethical structures, facilitating group decisions, recognizing opportunity, mobilizing resources and advocating for change. From the program, the cohort gains extensive knowledge on social entrepreneurship through coursework and hands-on experience by implementing the Cycle of Abilities in local communities in the Appalachia.
  • Business Competitions: The EPG department provides students with the opportunity to attend regional and national business and social entrepreneurial competitions. Dr. Peter Hackbert, the director of the program, provides mentoring and guidance to students at different levels of the process of how to create a business from an idea/problem. Following are the business competitions/opportunities student can partake in:
    • Idea State U
    • Collegiate
    • Harvard ABC
    • Clinton Global Initiative
  • StartUp Weekend and Other I&E Engagement: The EPG department creates the opportunity for all students to attend various events and conferences that promote innovation, entrepreneurship and social change all around the US. The department is unique is sponsoring all student costs for attending these events.
    • StartUp Weekend – Lexington and Louisville
    • VentureWell Open Conference
    • Ashoka U Exchange
    • Sullivan Foundation Ignite Retreats

Berea Innovation Studio

Berea Innovation Studio (BIS) is a club organization at Berea College with the mission of inspiring an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit among all Berea College students by creating an environment that nurtures the innovative energy and entrepreneurial mindset. It is a platform for students to learn and practice the concepts of I&E through interaction with peers on idea generation, prototype creation, and startup launch. It strives to engage all students in its activities, programs, and events, and thus, make a mark as one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial colleges in the US.
The current activities, programs, and events are as following: 

Idea Bounce: Idea Bounce is the first business idea pitch competition among interdisciplinary students in Berea College. It is designed to help students develop and pitch an idea, receive feedback and earn prize money. It was launched in Spring 2015 by UIF Cohort 2014 and is organized once every semester. Local and regional entrepreneurs, innovators and thought leaders have been invited as Judges of Idea Bounce in the past.

Local Hack Day: Local Hack day was organized as an incentive to engage the campus and the community into the mindset of coming together and solving a problem in electronics or computer science for 12 hours, without any prior knowledge in coding. It was organized for the first time in December 2017 and brought together about two dozens of students.

Campus Challenges: The campus challenges are designed to interact with students on the campus and engage them in prototyping and thinking about creative ways of solving challenges through making tangible things.


In the circle of academics, faculty often find themselves repeating what they have done and are comfortable with - highly academic settings with work that doesn't allow for creativity and innovation. We propose to educate faculty by utilizing the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program and the Work on Purpose program which is currently used by Dr. Peter Hackbert in the 8-week (now 6-week) Entrepreneurship for the Public Good program to teach the cohorts about the entrepreneurial mindset. This would instill in the faculty and staff ideas about how to implement entrepreneurial thinking in each of their respective disciplines, thus changing the way the student body thinks.

Though change is never easy, these simple programs do a fantastic job of exposing the entrepreneurial mindset for what it is. In order to create an environment suitable for students to create, innovate, and potentially launch startups, their mentors and educators must first have said mindset to aid them in their journey.


Berea College is committed to providing an environment that supports the learning, teaching, scholarship, and creative activity of its faculty, students, and staff. While there isn’t a tech transfer office, there are other resources that will help students shift their student research or idea to a commercial business. All the administrative work that is related to commercialization or patenting of an idea created by faculty, and/or student is handled by the vice president of Academics and the Dean of Faculty.

“Within this context, the Intellectual Property Rights Policy is intended to:

  • encourage excellence and innovation in teaching, scholarship, and creative activities by identifying and protecting the intellectual property rights of faculty, staff, students, and the College;
  • encourage the notion that creative and scholarly works produced at Berea College should advance the state of knowledge and contribute to the public good;
  • acknowledge and preserve the traditional property rights of scholars with respect to products of their intellectual endeavors (e.g., books, articles, manuscripts, plays, writings, musical scores, and works of art); and
  • guide policy and process for commercial uses of intellectual property other than the traditional products of scholarly work.

This Policy covers all types of intellectual property, including, in particular, works protected by copyright, patent, and trade secret laws. Although the following list is not exhaustive, it provides examples of the kinds of work the Policy addresses: inventions, discoveries, trade secrets, trade and service marks, writings, art works, musical compositions and performances, software, literary works, and architecture.” ("Intellectual Property Rights Policy." Berea College)


Berea College Office of Career Development has partnerships with several companies for students to increase various career development. It hosts several programs such as the yearly career fair that brings outside industries in to recruit students for both internships and full-time positions. It also organizes various events throughout the year to prepare students for internships and life after graduation, such as Cornell Weekend. Cornell Weekend is an event where MBA students from Cornell University come to Berea College for a weekend and meet with students to help them with their resumes and practice interviews with them. It also provides students with funding for various career development opportunities and graduate school endeavors like funds for professional clothing, grants for graduate school application and travel, for job interviews, and attending professional conferences.


Recognizing opportunity and advocating for change

The Entrepreneurship for the Public Good program selects twenty promising and competent Berea College students to participate in an 8-week (now 6-week) summer institute. EPG cohorts focus on creating a more sustainable economy mobilizing the area's resources: Adventure tourism industry.  The Director of the program Dr. Hackbert shares the work he does in the Appalachia region with his students. The work is generally not known in advance and gets discovered once the new cohort starts the program.

Cohorts redesign hiking and biking experiences, and other experiences based on the specific needs and vision the program has for the year. They have worked on making Berea a trail town, have enhanced cycling experience in Appalachia and have recently finished creating, alongside the Adventurous Cycling Association, a North-South bicycling map.

Leadership and civic engagement

The Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service department is home to more than 8 community-service programs led by students. The college partners with local nonprofit organizations in order to benefit the local community through service programs. Students manage student volunteers for on and off-campus events. Student volunteers get the chance to apply their academic knowledge and critical thinking skills to meet genuine community needs. Through reflection and assessment, students gain the deeper understanding of the importance of civic engagement.

Programs Offered:

  • Berea Buddies
  • Berea Teen Mentoring
  • Adopt a Grandparent
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • The Hispanic Outreach Project
  • People Who Care
  • Berea Tutoring
  • Service Learning
  • Community Partnerships
  • Bonner Scholars

Landscape Canvas

Landscape Canvas Spreadsheet

Related Links

Berea College Student Priorities

University Innovation Fellows

Spring 2018:

Andreea Teban

Julia Roberts

Kayla Barbour

Rodney Kimbangu

Spring 2016:

Ishwar Agarwal

Bessaad Syrine

Minashsha Lamisa

Talha Rehman

Spring 2015:

Tran Nguyen

Dylan Mullins

Jacob Heller

Eugeniu Prodan

Anthony Ayebiahwea

Robert Hosking

Spring 2014:

Ali Djire

Solomon Alolga

Ability Kakama