EPI2C Entrepreneurship & Design Thinking


  • Rick Edgeman Fort Hays State University
  • Henry Schwaller Fort Hays State University
  • Kunal Sevak Fort Hays State University




experiential learning, innovation, purpose-driven change, social & ecological impact, sustainability, UN SDGs


Entrepreneurship is a high-stakes, action-oriented game played on a field defined by competition and collaboration. However, across academic entrepreneurship programs, education formats range from almost exclusively classroom-based to highly experiential to hybrid. The entrepreneurship program at the authors’ institution has generally favored traditional classroom boundaries, augmented by non-mandatory experiential opportunities. Realizations derived from the covid-19 pandemic and ensuing movement to virtual instruction are driving rapid, ongoing change in the institution’s entrepreneurship program. Pandemic-driven isolation and additional isolation resulting from largely asynchronous virtual delivery of education have had negative impacts. Changes have been enacted to combat these factors that are generally antithetical to the hands-on nature of entrepreneurship, while contributing to decline in entrepreneurial performance across an array of measures. Seen in the face of the same factors, was a marked increase in business plan proposals featuring apps, creations, or other solutions emphasizing human-interaction. Relative to entrepreneurship education, these increases are taken to indicate hunger for (predominantly) face-to-face competition and collaboration. When linked with broad trends toward social and environmental responsibility, clarity emerged as to the sort of pivot needed in the trajectory of entrepreneurial and other education at the institution. The transformation in trajectory is captured by the motto “do good, make a difference, change the world”, symbolizing determination to focus on things that matter. Similarly, the pivot is captured by the acronym EPI2C, representing five targeted program aspects: “Experiential, Purposeful, Imaginative, Innovative & Creative”. Together, these drove rebranding of the program as “EPI2C Entrepreneurship & Design Thinking”, thus highlighting the enabling role of design thinking in many entrepreneurial endeavors. Delineated herein is program reinvention driven by the preceding motto; use of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) to support the motto; the role of design thinking; the relationship specific meanings and distinctions among the EPI2C descriptors; and specific program innovations. Also discussed is improved student performance associated with program reinvention.

Author Biographies

Henry Schwaller, Fort Hays State University

Henry Schwaller, IV is instructor of management and entrepreneurship in the Robbins College of Business & Entrepreneurship at Fort Hays State University, Kansas, USA. He earned the MBA from the University of Kansas. He is a serial entrepreneur is served as both mayor and city commissioner in Hays, Kansas for 18 years and has been with Fort Hays State University for more than 20 years.

Kunal Sevak, Fort Hays State University

Dr Kunal Sevak is associate professor of entrepreneurship in the Robbins College of Business & Entrepreneurship at Fort Hays State University, Kansas, USA. He earned the PhD in entrepreneurship from Auburn University in 2016. His main research areas are entrepreneurship and digital entrepreneurship.