The University of San Diego is an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. This designation recognizes USD as a top institution for social innovation education opportunities and demonstrates an ongoing commitment to develop student leaders who are inspired through their experiences to make a difference in the world.
One of USD’s newest ideas for continued social innovation education awareness is the USD Changemaker Fest, running Nov. 5-9. What was a one-day event last spring is now a full week dedicated to help the campus community define, explore and put change into action. There’s everything from yoga, health and wellness to sustainability to emphasizing the responsibility of voting in the Nov. 6 election and, starting Nov. 8, helping USD decide on its One Challenge initiative.
Inside USD spoke with USD Changemaker Hub Faculty Director and School of Business Administration Associate Professor of Management Patricia Marquez and Changemaker Hub Assistant Director Juan Carlos Rivas about the Changemaker Fest and other efforts to address changemaking at USD.
What advice do you have for those who want to get the most out of the Changemaker Fest?
Marquez: The way I think about it is to see the structure of the Changemaker path: When we talk about changemaking, there are three levels: personal, local/national and global. The activities vary during the Changemaker Fest, some are very familiar, like yoga, but there are other activities that’ll make you say ‘what are they talking about?’ You might feel a little disconcerted, but that’s on purpose. There’s going to be individual discovery, discovery at the local and national levels and the international level.
What’s one can’t-miss event during the Changemaker Fest?
Marquez: You can’t miss the Changemaker main festival on Thursday, Nov. 8 (noon to 2 p.m., SLP Plaza Mayor). This is where everything comes together for the week. It’s a chance for people to see what universities are or should be about in the 21st century — a combination of learning inside and outside of the classroom, a combination of fun and inquiry. Everything is represented during these two hours. We’re together, we’re talking about what has been learned, what’s been shared and it’s a celebration.
Rivas: Daily workshops because they let people explore what it means to be a Changemaker. On Monday there’s what I call a Changemaker 101 workshop, “Finding Your Inner-Changemaker” (9 a.m., SLP 324); On Wednesday (5:30-7:30 p.m. UC Forum B) the SOLES Leadership Institute hosts “Uncovering the Potential of Social Change in the Emerging Future: A Reflective Exploration.” This is an opportunity to explore self-perception, listen to others and find out where they’re at in their journey as Changemakers. On Friday there’s an Ashoka staff member, Cosmo Fujiyama, and Transformative Action Institute Executive Director Scott Sherman hosting four sessions (9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice). Sherman is also our keynote speaker at Thursday’s festival, so if you like what you hear there and want to dig deeper, this is a chance to do it.
Marquez: The USD One Challenge. It was made it clear last year that when USD received the Ashoka U designation that it was because we’re a university that meets challenges and leads change. The USD One Challenge is a collective opportunity for creating ideas to tackle a different social issue each year. A team of nonprofit and for-profit leaders in San Diego came together to select three potential social challenges for the USD community to choose from and, via a USD vote, one will be chosen. The three challenge topics will be announced at Thursday’s festival. Once the challenge is selected, USD faculty, staff and students can submit their ideas. There will be seminars and workshops to learn more about the selected social challenge. We want your ideas for social change, to share and discuss them and help move these ideas into action to create a better world.
Rivas: The Changemaker Champions Track program for students who attend at least two workshops and four activities. Register online and then be sure to collect a stamp for each event you attend and once you complete the requirements, you turn in the form and you’re entered into a raffle for a chance to win one of 10 tickets (a $350 value) for the Ashoka U Exchange on Feb. 21-23, 2013 at USD.
Marquez: The students are the brains and the force behind the Changemaker Fest. They’re the ones who will make it a powerful event. This is an idea that came from the students. The centers, institutes and the university have followed their lead. It really shows what our students are about and how they come through. They’re not just talking, but they walk the walk. They’re not just imagining things, they’re making it happen and with top quality. When everyone sees the complexity and number of events, it’s going to be really powerful, knowing this is all student developed.
What other potential ideas excite you as the Ashoka U designation gains traction?
Marquez: We want to develop a minor in social innovation/social entrepreneurship, something multi-disciplinary, creative and available to all undergrads. How do we unleash the potential of youth, their creativity and help them through it? What are the social problems plaguing the 21st century and what are they about? How do we construct ways to tackle them, think creatively and make models needed to solve these issues? I’d also like to find ways to incorporate alumni, parents, retired people, people who are changing careers, work with USD’s Professional and Continuing Education.
Rivas: Providing scholarship opportunities for students and developing projects that help us reach different people on campus, such as starting a book club with a Changemaker theme.
Marquez: The website’s design conveys to everybody what the meaning of a Changemaker is — it has many dimensions. It starts with who you are, the self-awareness that everyone — faculty, staff, students, and alumni — has a story. The website has stories to convey the diversity of individuals in action and endeavors that are Changemaker activities. We’ve tried to make it fun, but informative. We want to create more mechanisms to make it more engaging and interactive. We want it to be useful for communicating, shaping and strengthening the course of changemaking at USD.
What non-USD resources do you recommend to learn about the Changemaker concept?
Marquez: The Ashoka website is a great resource. You have access to 3,000 Ashoka fellows as possible guest speakers for events and Changemaker toolkits for students. Visit the websites of the other Changemaker campuses to see what they’re doing. Some of it is similar, but every campus is unique. Check out the TED talks. There will be a TED event Feb. 22 at San Diego’s Balboa Theatre during the Ashoka U Exchange.
Has your personal definition of what a Changemaker is changed since the Fall 2011 designation was announced?
Marquez: Yes. When I first started, mine was tied to the idea of being a social entrepreneur, which is what’s at the heart of Ashoka’s definition. But when you interact with other schools, you soon find that entrepreneurship has different connotations and it’s broader than just being a social entrepreneur. Being a Changemaker allows us to develop the notion that to bring change and to create a better world that it’s not just entrepreneurship in the way that a business school understands it to be. It’s about an individual’s awareness of the power they have to shape the world they live in, having a socially engaged life, knowing not just what’s in your head, but knowledge that helps you establish connections for problem solving. It’s how you engage in your community and understand the impact of being a socially, civic-engaged individual who isn’t waiting on somebody else to create a better world — you’re part of that creation.
Rivas: I’ve met wonderful USD students who define for me what a Changemaker is: Associated Students President Morgan Schwanke and his team’s leadership skills; Football player Kyle Miller working on an anti-bullying program, Lace Up Stand Up; Eirene Rocha of Students for Fair Trade and Sustainability playing an instrumental role in USD’s designation as a Fair Trade University. Every student I meet at USD helps my idea of what a Changemaker is evolve.
— Ryan T. Blystone
USD Changemaker Hub is on Facebook and @usdchangemkr on Twitter. To follow the Changemaker Fest on Twitter use hashtag #usdchangemakers