In the fall of 2011, the Changemaker Hub was launched as a campuswide manifestation of the University of San Diego’s commitment to promote entrepreneurship, collaboration and innovation for positive social change by linking occurring initiatives at USD, as well as developing new ones.
In 2012, the Changemaker Hub advanced USD’s Catholic identity and social thought mission by inviting creativity and collaborations for solving the world’s most intractable social problems. Faculty, staff, students and community members were encouraged to meet challenges and lead change in the activities that motivate them, be it a class, a program, an event or a social gathering.
One example was the San Diego Microenterprise Alliance (SDMA), an initiative between the Center for Community Service-Learning and the School of Business Administration, in collaboration with the Microfinance Alliance and several community partners. This project fulfilled the dual purpose of serving low-income entrepreneurs while students learned how to best allocate resources and the intricacies of managing lending portfolios.
“See beneath the surface of autism to discover children who will learn to connect with the world,” said Casey Hoffman, while presenting the purpose of See Beneath, a social enterprise that helped him become a winner in the Center for Peace and Commerce’s 2012 Social Innovation Challenge. The efforts of this changemaker, who is enrolled in USD’s Master’s of Science in Global Leadership program, offer something very unique. “Aiko & Egor,” an animation series designed especially for children with autism, uses cutting-edge research for motivating children with autism to learn skills while enjoying the stories.
Animation also played a role in the work of Gabe Adibe '12. A staunch advocate of social justice, Adibe was concerned that core values of human dignity and positive change weren’t connecting with younger audiences, so he created “Anomaly,” a first-of-its-kind interactive comic strip that promotes issues related to peace and justice. “We hope to enlighten people, inspire people and inform people with something that does fit into their schedule,” Adibe said. “Many people don’t want to read a journal about peace and solving problems. They’d rather read a comic book, novel or other forms of written entertainment. We’re introducing media that addresses the issues and puts it in a way that people will enjoy, relate to and, hopefully, be inspired.”
During a two-week trip to Ghana in January 2012, nine USD graduate students collected data in a select number of the African nation’s underperforming schools. A team led by Assistant Professor Joi Spencer, PhD, of the School of Leadership and Education Sciences administered a professional development training experience to teachers with the aim of encouraging them to adopt more interactive, learner-centered methodologies. Patricia Marquez, PhD, associate professor of management, led a team of graduate students who researched, analyzed and identified suggestions for using microfinance to invest in the transformation of local schools.
This work aimed to suggest recommendations for the nonprofit group Edify to contribute to its mission of supporting affordable education in the developing world, as well as for the local microfinance institution Sinapi Aba Trust and the proprietors of the schools. Several USD faculty members and students returned to Ghana over the summer to continue this work.
In 2012, the USD Medical Brigades journeyed to Guanacaste, Costa Rica, to provide health services to underserved communities. Primarily student led, the medical brigades chapter at USD comprises Toreros who are pursuing degrees in the field of health care, and who are committed to making a difference in the lives of those in need. “It’s crazy to know that you are the one helping someone out,” said Kami Shabaz ’14. “You’re the one that is making a difference for them.”
Solar panels, alternative transportation and an electronic waste collection center are just a few of the efforts USD has made toward improving the global footprint of the campus.
All those efforts contributed toward USD being named Outstanding Sustainable Organization of the Year in 2012 by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) at its eighth annual Energy All-Star Awards. The San Diego-based center cited USD as a “leader in sustainable facilities and programs through the integration of green transportation, progressive energy management and community leadership in waste reduction.”
The university has installed one of the largest rooftop solar installations in the country with a 1.23-megawatt system, opened a community electronic waste collection center and encouraged alternative transportation through biking, carpooling and car-sharing programs.
Additionally, USD was recognized several times in 2011 for its commitment to sustainability, including a proclamation from the San Diego City Council for “University of San Diego Sustainability Day” on April 12, 2011. USD also received the prestigious “Excellence in Energy Savings Champion for Higher Education” from San Diego Gas & Electric Co. The university is one of only 15 groups nationwide to receive National Science Foundation funding to develop climate change education strategies.
Due in part to USD’s commitment and contribution to social sustainability issues, the university has become one of only 19 Ashoka U Changemaker Campuses in the United States, making it part of a leadership community dedicated to innovation and social entrepreneurship.