Ashoka U, an educational endeavor of international social entrepreneurship organization Ashoka , named Boston College a “Changemaker Campus” in a San Diego ceremony on Feb. 23. The designation, currently granted to only 22 universities worldwide, recognizes BC’s commitment to social innovation.

Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes and Stephanie Berzin , associate professors at the Graduate School of Social Work and co-directors of the Center for Social Innovation, directed the application process. “Ashoka is an organization that promotes education and social entrepreneurship in the world,” Berzin said. “Ashoka U was formed to support the next generation of changemakers . It decided the best place to find these leaders would be college campuses, and it looks for universities that are leaders in promoting social entrepreneurship among its students.”

Berzin’s work with Pitt-Catsouphes helped draw Ashoka’s attention to BC. “We launched the Social Innovation Council, a group of students, faculty, and administrators who are interested in social entrepreneurship. The idea was to bring together groups like the Social Responsibility Council, SEED, PULSE, and other similar programs from across the university to really think about social innovation as a whole,” Berzin said. “Because we had that effort as a campus-wide initiative, Ashoka became interested in us.”

That the program stemmed from the school of social work, rather than a business or technological school, as was the case at many other universities, set BC’s social innovation program apart for Ashoka U. Still, Berzin emphasized that the recognition is a universal one: “We were the lead school, but it is a designation for all of BC … The deans of all the colleges, the administrators at many levels, were all involved in this process.”

Lauren Watt expressed a similar sentiment. “Even though it started in the GSSW and was spearheaded by Stephanie and Marcie, it’s really a way to showcase the whole host of efforts going on around campus that contribute to our mission of social justice,” she said. “This is something that affects the entire campus.”

They hope that this collaboration will further the mission of social innovation at BC. “This is a way to bring together the many efforts at BC, a university that is highly focused on social justice as well as very service-oriented,” Berzin said.

“We really want to emphasize this cross-collaboration between the schools, because we’re all in it for the same goals,” Watt said.

Recognition by Ashoka also provides greater visibility to BC. “Being given this designation is huge, because there are only 22 universities worldwide that have been named Changemaker Campuses,” Watt said. “It’s great for the school because it puts us on a different level of recognition, how we’re viewed internationally.”

“The designation provides BC the opportunity to showcase its efforts with regard to leadership, social innovation, and social justice, and really to present our social work as a force on the international stage,” Berzin said.

But even within the BC community, being named a leader in social innovation underscores the University’s philosophy. “This designation is a recognition for what we stand for as a University,” Watt said. “It demonstrates that we are ahead of the curve when it comes to human service.”

Sofia Papastamelos , a member of the BC Venture Competition and CSOM ’13, agreed. “Especially as a University embedded with the ideas of ‘Men and Women for Others,’ this idea of having more programs and initiatives focusing on social innovation seems to fit.”

All three hope that the designation will also bring greater awareness to the importance of social justice on a daily level on campus. “Seeing that we are now a Changemaker Campus is just further encouragement,” Papastamelos said. “Over the past four years at BC I have noticed more and more of an emphasis on the subject, whether it’s through one of the themes of a freshmen Portico class or professor Gallaugher’s TechTrek Ghana field study class. Whether or not you want to be a social entrepreneur, I think that it’s good for students at BC to understand what it means for a company to be socially innovative.”

“Ashoka U provides opportunities to make a concentrated effort on these endeavors, and rethink how we view social entrepreneurship,” Berzin said. “How do we take what’s going on here and become a lens for faculty, for students, and for the outside world? Service is something you do on the weekend, social innovation is something you live, something you bring to your work every day, whether in business, the arts, or the sciences.

“It’s a different living-out of the mission,” she said. “We talk a lot about student formation, but social innovation is really about student transformation, so that the vision of social justice follows them the rest of their lives.”

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, — By on April 10, 2013 4:48 pm

‘Food Glorious Food’ coordinator Iseult Darling, at the SEI awards ceremony on Monday evening.

Alexander Sloan | Contributing writer

‘Food Glorious Food’, a Trinity student-led initiative has won the prestigious Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) ‘Minnovation’ award.   The project, which aims to bridge the gap between food waste and food poverty, has become the talk of not just college, but of the national media over the past couple of weeks.    Prominent features in both the Irish Times and the Irish Sun has set the spotlight firmly on how this student-led project is attempting to combat Ireland’s record as the 5th worst nation in Europe for food waste.    Ireland produces over 1 million tonnes of food waste each year, yet this has not been lost on the SEI, who have recognised the successes of a project which only went live three weeks ago.   In essence, the Food Glorious Food project has created a ‘virtual food bank’, whereby restaurants and catering facilities with food, which may once have been thrown in the rubbish bin, are linked with charities through an APP.  Those charities can then redistribute the surplus produce to the most vulnerable within our society to food poverty.

The aim of the SEI is to provide a platform, in order to help solve Ireland’s most pressing social and environmental issues, for social entrepreneurial projects to realise their potential.   Since its inception seven years ago, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland has provided the platform for over 160 projects to ‘get off the ground’.    In its first year, the ‘Minnovation’ award is designed primarily for projects in a primitive stage, with the goal of helping great ideas come to fruition.    Last night’s final, hosted in the Smock Alley Theatre, saw the ‘Food Glorious Food’ project faced with tough competition.   The other two finalists were ‘Your Voice is a Gift’ and ‘Dailwatch’, the latter a project founded by current Trinity student Sarah O’Neill.   Each project had to deliver a two minute pitch, outlining why they should win the €2,000 prize fund, with the winner decided by an audience and panel vote.

Project leader Iseult Ward, a final year Business and Economics student, spoke of her delight this morning at winning the award.  ‘Everyone here at Food Glorious Food HQ is overwhelmed at the success of the project thus far.   To win the Minnovation award is, without doubt, a massive step in the development of the initiative.  Thanks to the support of the SEI and their financial backing, we are hopeful that the project (which relies on the tireless efforts of student volunteers) will be able to expand beyond the current pilot scheme to across the nation.’

If you would like to learn more about the global issue of food waste, the Food Glorious Food project or are interested in getting involved with the initiative, make sure to check them out on their social media platforms, their website foodgfood.com or email [email protected]

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April 10, 2013

Through their efforts to benefit people’s lives via missions such as making higher education more accessible and inspiring youth to start their own community-oriented campaigns, social entrepreneurs are redefining what it means to lead profitable business ventures. In fact, many social entrepreneurs assert that their companies can positively impact society even more dramatically and efficiently than non-profit organizations already in the philanthropic space.

In their interview with , Coursera founders Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng explained their view that Coursera’s standard C Corporation status (which indicates that they are held accountable to make a financial return on their investors’ funding) actually helps them better and more efficiently achieve their mission. “It turns out that we’re able to find resources much more easily as a company than as a nonprofit.”

Ms. Koller added that, in today’s business world, the assumption that only non-profits have positive social impact as their primary goal is being challenged. “I just read the Time magazine article about nonprofit hospitals charging egregious amounts for Band-Aids,” she told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “It comes down to who’s running it and what their intent is.”

Other startup founders agree with this view that the business space is changing. “This generation of entrepreneurs were actually raised very idealist,” 32-year-old Michael Staton, who founded the company Inigral, told The Chronicle of Higher Education, “I always felt that I was getting sold this idea that I could change the world—as far back as I could remember.”

It is not surprising that many young people set out to create companies whose main goals are to both generate revenue and benefit society, as many independent companies and college-based organizations currently exist whose aim is to inspire enterprising individuals to change the world. For example, according to Northern Illinois University’s student newspaper The Northern Star , the university’s Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs (CAUSE) hosted its first Social Impact Summit last week, featuring social entrepreneurs as speakers.

“It’s a really innovative and different way to think about business,” said NIU senior Kyle Lundin, who attended the Summit, “One of the speakers [said] you can have a successful business and still have a mission, and [talked about] how business is shaping that way. […It’s] cool to see these forefront thinkers paving the way and connecting for-profit business with helping other people and having a mission.”

Other colleges and universities have similar programs that promote entrepreneurship coupled with a sense of social purpose. For example, according to Forbes , Brown University’s Swearer Center has a Social Innovation Initiative that focuses on guiding young entrepreneurial students through the process of obtaining funding, networking, and realizing their visions. Furthermore, Middlebury College has a Center for Social Entrepreneurship that offers enterprising students guidance, grants, fellowships, symposiums, and discussions lead by leaders in the social entrepreneurship field. Such programs aim to help students find their career purpose while giving them the tools to achieve their aspirations. In doing so, they help ensure that social entrepreneurship will play an increasingly prominent role in the American economy in the coming years.


Compiled by Kaitlin Louie

Sources:

“’Social Entrepreneurs’ Bring New Ideas, New Conflicts to Colleges,” chronicle.com, April 8, 2013, Jeffrey R. Young

“Social Entrepreneurship Is Bringing Purpose To Higher Education,” forbes.com, March 27, 2013, Robin Pendoley

“Student organization hosts social entrepreneurship workshops,” northernstar.info, April 7, 2013, Logan Love

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