College Joins Network of Innovative Campuses
Colorado College has been designated a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U and selected to join a global consortium of leaders in social entrepreneurship education. The 26 members of the consortium, which includes only three liberal arts colleges, are committed to advancing social innovation initiatives on their campuses and catalyzing change in higher education.
The designation, which solidifies CC’s reputation as a leader in developing innovative, socially minded curricula and programs, grew out of CC’s Summer Global Sustainability Internship Program. Colorado College completed a rigorous selection process involving months of assessments, interviews, site visits, and strategy sessions, and was selected because it meets a variety of criteria. A team of faculty, staff, and students worked together to get the designation for CC, which joins Middlebury and Rollins as the other liberal arts institutions.
One of the benefits the “changemaker campus” designation provides is global recognition for the work CC does toward social entrepreneurship.
“Our students take the initiative to accomplish extraordinary things – we see it time and again,” said Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler. “At CC, the spirit of innovation and social entrepreneurship runs deep, and we are proud to be recognized as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U. Together we can build stronger, more vibrant communities and empower the future leaders of social change, those who are determined to find solutions to world’s most pressing problems,” she said.
“The educational goals of students are changing,” said Marina Kim, cofounder and executive director of Ashoka U. “These student demands add a new dimension to the call for innovation in higher education: How can colleges and universities foster the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that equip graduates to address increasingly complex global challenges? Every student should get the chance to acquire the skills necessary to make a difference in the world.”
In a rapidly changing world, students need interdisciplinary, entrepreneurial, and solutions-oriented skills to succeed. At the same time, students’ expectations of their educational experiences are changing: 72 percent say that having a job “where I can make a difference” is very important and 65 percent expect to make a social or environmental impact through their work, according to a 2012 Net Impact study conducted by Rutgers University and supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
CC’s signature Block Plan, in place for more than 30 years, provides a structure conducive to student innovation on a local, regional, and global scale. CC has a very sustainability-oriented student body, eager to engage in social innovation around the world, said Associate Sociology Professor Eric Popkin, director of Global Social Innovation and Ashoka Programs and the designated changemaker leader on campus. “The college is aiming to expand all types of global experiences for students, drawing on the strength of the Block Plan,” he said. “Part of the strategy is to align some of these experiences with the goal of confronting the challenges of the 21st century and preparing students to engage with those issues, offering them the skills and knowledge to help create innovative solutions.
“The Ashoka designation offers CC many opportunities,” Popkin said. “We are part of a stellar network of colleges and universities engaged in this work, and joining Ashoka provides us the opportunity to draw on expertise within the network. We have multiple new contacts, which will lead to increased opportunities for our students.”
A video, “The CC Community as Global and Social Innovator,” shows the breadth and depth of CC faculty support for such efforts. Additionally, Ashoka was impressed by the number of strong programs at the forefront of social innovation that CC already has in place, among them the State of the Rockies Project, Public Interest Fellowship Program, Venture Grants, The Big Idea, Global Sustainability Summer Internships program, and the IDEA Space.
CC also has a strong global perspective, with an average of 25 global block courses offered every year, and approximately 80 percent of Colorado College students involved in off-campus academic work at some point in their CC career.
Founded in 2005, Ashoka U is the university division of Ashoka, the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs. Ashoka U takes an institutional change approach to impact the education of millions of students, collaborating with colleges and universities to break down barriers to institutional change and foster a campus-wide culture of social innovation.