The University of San Diego was honored last fall when it was officially announced as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. It’s a designation that only 14 institutions across the nation — and one in Mexico — have received.
“USD received the Changemaker designation in 2011 because it’s an institution true to its mission, where social justice and ethical behavior is essential to everything we do,” said USD Business Professor Patricia Marquez, who is also co-chair of USD’s Changemaker Hub. “At USD, teaching, research and service are geared to harness student creativity and commitment towards building a better, more sustainable world.”
In the spirit of that commitment, Ashoka U officials have announced that USD will host the February 2013 Ashoka U Exchange conference, which connects 650 of today’s most innovative and influential leaders of social entrepreneurship and social change in higher education.
Being chosen as the 2013 host, Marquez said, means “having the opportunity to share the pioneering work done at USD in social change teaching, research and service with approximately 650 individuals from all over the world, representing the most innovative institutions pursuing similar goals.”
The first Ashoka U Exchange took place at Duke University in 2011. Arizona State University, the 2012 host, brought 400 leaders together to collaborate over different types of social impact initiatives. The theme of the ASU conference was “Disruptive Innovation in Higher Education.”
“The conference offers a wide variety of workshops in the areas of teaching, research and institutional change that can enable even larger numbers of changemakers — students, staff, and faculty — to have a larger impact with their ideas and their actions,” said Marquez, who attended the ASU event as part of a large USD contingent.
By the end of the conference, there are three winners chosen to execute strategic plans presented in projects committed to initiating change amongst their campus community and, subsequently, the world. The winners are also awarded free registration to attend the following year’s conference to share their progress and developments.
USD has a longstanding tradition of commitment to social change. Members of the campus are encouraged to partner with and provide service to the community through academic courses and opportunities such as student organizations, Greek Life, University Ministry and the Center for Community for Service-Learning/Center for Awareness, Service and Action. USD strives to motivate the leaders of tomorrow to be agents of instigating social change through the integration of academics and service.
The chance to host the 2013 conference, a weekend event, provides an opening to demonstrate USD’s successes as a hub for changemakers.
“The designation is an opportunity to share with others what USD stands for,” Marquez said. “USD can lead the way in this pioneering initiative for changemaking through purposeful, cross disciplinary initiatives in teaching, research and community action.”
While the program’s content is in its early stages of development, USD officials look forward to the innovative and energetic atmosphere that will envelop the campus during the Exchange.
“The main opportunity is that we will learn from our institutional partners and a myriad of Ashoka social entrepreneurs working all over the world,” Marquez said. “From them, we can gain knowledge about best practices and what needs to be done in order to enable our own changemakers on campus.”
— Ann-Marie Auger-Andrews ‘12