Skip to content

University designated a 'Changemaker Campus'


By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Mar. 13, 2013

Boston College has been named a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka, a global association of leading social entrepreneurs. The Changemaker designation recognizes colleges and universities that “have embedded social innovation as a core value,” according to Ashoka, and built “supportive environments for changemaking across the entire institution – from admissions through the curriculum, career services, all the way to community and alumni engagement.”

Ashoka cited BC’s use of social innovation as “a pathway to social justice,” noting the establishment of a social innovation program in the Graduate School of Social Work. BC “not only provides students the opportunity to become changemakers through its Social Innovation and Leadership master’s degree, but also invites traditional service agencies and community organizations to build social innovation capacity by participating in BC’s Social Innovation Lab.”

Since its founding in 1981, Ashoka has elected nearly 3,000 leading social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to a global network of peers in 70 countries in an effort to develop innovative models for collaboration and design new architecture for social change.

Ashoka U, Ashoka’s university division, also named Dublin City University of Ireland and the University of Northampton (UK) as Changemaker Campuses, bringing to 22 the number of institutions that have received the designation. Others include Cornell, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Marquette and Duke universities, the University of Maryland and Babson and Middlebury colleges.

Six experts in social entrepreneurship and higher education assessed BC as a potential Changemaker Campus.  In the selection process — which includes an inventory, multiple rounds of interviews, a campus site visit, and a half-day selection panel — candidates for the Changemaker designation present their social innovation vision for their institution, report on progress to date, and develop an action plan.

GSSW Associate Professors Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes and Stephanie Berzin, who are leading GSSW’s social innovation efforts and helped coordinate BC’s participation in the Changemaker Campus selection process, applauded the designation. As a Changemaker, they said, BC will have access to Ashoka expertise, events and resources that offer opportunities to improve and potentially broaden the University’s social innovation activities.

“Ashoka U also has access to outside resources that support social innovation education,” said Berzin, “and through our affiliation, we will be uniquely positioned to use these.”

Added Pitt-Catsouphes, “BC is now on the national stage of social innovation. The Changemaker status provides a meaningful platform and structure for faculty, staff, and students to link their activities as appropriate, so the 'whole' is more than the sum of its parts.”

Provost and Dean of Faculties Cutberto Garza also welcomed the news.

“Boston College is proud of its designation as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka, joining Brown, Duke, Cornell, Johns Hopkins and 18 other outstanding institutions with this designation.  Professors Pitt-Catsouphes and Berzin merit special thanks for bringing this distinction to our University.  Their efforts — along with those of other colleagues — are enabling us to maintain our commitment to social innovation, as we strive individually and institutionally to improve the human condition.”