Ashoka U – the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs – recognized Georgian College as the first changemaker college in Canada at a special ceremony in Boston, Massachusetts.
The designation sets Georgian apart as a leader in creating positive change in the communities it serves and producing graduates with the innovative skills and creative mindset needed to use their education for social good.
“This is the leading designation for social innovation in higher education and a testament to Georgian’s great work in collaboration with our college partners,” says MaryLynn West-Moynes, Georgian President and CEO. “Through projects, research, timely curriculum, experiential learning and more, our students, staff, faculty and alumni are turning challenges into opportunities and ideas into innovations that are helping to make our communities – and our world – greener, safer, stronger and more inclusive.”
The designation ceremony was part of the Ashoka U Exchange – the largest international gathering for college and university professionals to learn and share leading practices for embedding social innovation in higher education. Maryann Fifield, Vice President, Academic, accepted the honour on behalf of the college.
“Georgian is humbled and proud to be recognized as Canada’s first – and only! – changemaker college,” Fifield says. “We join an inspiring global community of institutions and leaders who are driving change on a systems level and preparing our future leaders with a set of skills we know are critical, not only for success in the workplace, but in strengthening and transforming our communities for the better.”
Changemaking is in Georgian’s DNA, infused in everything that makes up the college – from curriculum and community projects, to partnerships and processes.
Examples of changemaking in action at Georgian include helping non-profits address gaps in service, tackling food insecurity on campus, trips to provide health care in rural communities in the Dominican Republic, and student-led initiatives like a program to help young people feel more comfortable with police officers.
“Our students think they can change the world, and we do too,” says Suzie Addison-Toor, Director of Georgian’s Centre for Changemaking and Social Innovation, and Georgian’s lead on Ashoka. “They’re looking for meaning in their lives and careers – hungry to make a difference. But often they don’t know how or where to start. That’s where Georgian comes in.”
The college provides the knowledge, opportunities and resources to support changemaking initiatives and projects. Students develop and hone skills like empathy, critical thinking, teamwork and courage. They are empowered to make meaningful change happen.
The designation falls under Ashoka U’s Changemaker Campus program, which recognizes over 40 colleges and universities globally that have embedded social innovation and changemaking into their culture, programming and operations.
Watch a video of Maryann Fifield, Vice President, Academic, accepting the Ashoka U changemaker college designation on behalf of Georgian College.