Capstone


Travel with Professor Sara Minard and her Advanced Studies in Social Enterprise Students to Appalachia this Spring 2016.

This spring break, students in Professor Minard’s ENTR4506 Advanced Studies in Social Enterprise will be traveling to Appalachia (Tennessee and Kentucky) to explore social entrepreneurship, rural poverty, and sustainable food systems in rural contexts. appalachia2016

About the trip:

We will begin in Nashville, to orient students to the realities of life in the southern part of the United States. There we will meet with social enterprises including Thistle Farms, The Well, and the Farms of Bells Bend. From there, the group will travel northeast into Berea, Kentucky to visit Berea College, and several local food initiatives like Grow Appalachia, Entrepreneurship for the Public Group, and the Village Trough. The students will have an opportunity to engage with Berea College students on a design-thinking workshop around issues of income poverty, employment, and sustainable food systems. Berea is a tuition free, labor-based college, which specializes in first generation college attendees from mountain communities. All of their students are from low-income families, living across rural Appalachia. Grow Appalachia is a privately funded community food development program that educates and employs local farmers using innovative technologies. Our students will visit their different growing sites and learn from community partners’ first-hand understanding of food insecurity in rural contexts and how they implement community-based, social enterprise solutions to those challenges. Students can check out one of our partner organizations here: bellsbendfarms.com.

From Berea we drive south to Clearfork Valley on the Tennessee-Kentucky line to work with Clearfork Community Institute, a long-standing community based research and development institute, which focuses on the transition to a post-coal economy for rural communities.  Students will engage in a “true cost of coal” workshop, where they learn about the environmental damage and costs of extractive industry dependence on the local economy, and creatively examine alternatives that the communities have been experimenting with, like developing land trusts and local food production. Our time at Clearfork will involve a wilderness hike led by community members.

Our next and final stop is the Highlander Folk School in New Market, Tennessee, which played an important historical role in social justice movements in the south for the past eighty years. Prominent collaborators with Highlander included Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Paulo Freire, Woody Guthrie, and many other pioneering thinkers and seekers. Students will work with Highlander staff to learn about the principles, methods, and history of the school. Highlander will also be the site of our synthesis and reflection activities for the whole of the trip. We will conclude the experience with some square dancing lessons and live bluegrass music around a bonfire before the group heads back to Boston.

The per student cost of this unique, hands-on, eight day program is $500 per person which will cover round trip airfare from Boston, local transportation, food, lodging, and insurance.

For questions, please contact Professor Minard, c.minard@neu.edu