Brown Hosts 2014 Global Conference on Social Innovation

March 14, 2013

The Ashoka U Exchange - the world’s largest convening for social entrepreneurship education - recently selected Brown University to host its February 2014 event, an annual gathering of students, university leaders, and entrepreneurs exploring and advancing their efforts in social innovation and social change.

The announcement was made on a sunny weekend last month at the University of San Diego, where 650 people from over 150 institutions and 40 countries had convened for this year’s Exchange.

Brown University is one of 22 colleges and universities around the world to be named a “Changemaker Campus” by Ashoka U - a designation awarded to schools that have embedded social innovation as a core value and built supportive environments for changemaking across the institution. Changemaker Campuses are at the forefront of social innovation in higher education - forming a dynamic, global network of students, faculty, and fellows who share inspiration, connections, and support.

"For Brown students, public service and activism is a given," said Changemaker Campus Director Michele Leaman. "Brown educators and learners are compelled by questions and answers for the social good – new ways of thinking and acting for social impact. We see our partnership with Brown's Social Innovation Initiative to host next year's Exchange as a unique opportunity to draw on those strengths."

The Social Innovation Initiative (SII), based at the Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service, works to promote an open culture of collaborative learning and community impact at Brown through academic initiatives, venture support, advising, and a close, connected network of students, alumni, and practitioners. Since its launch in 2007, SII has advised and invested in over 100 students with big ideas for social change, many of whom have gone on to start their own social ventures in Rhode Island and around the world.

“The notions of innovation and engaged scholarship permeate Brown,” says Brown University President Christina Paxson. “Confronting the challenges of the world makes our work stronger and our mission directly relevant. We are so pleased to host this gathering of innovative leaders at Brown and in our city and state which themselves reflect a heritage of creativity and collaboration.”

The conference will also highlight the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in the city of Providence. Attendees will have the opportunity visit initiatives throughout the city, connecting with innovative leaders and initiatives that give “The Creative Capital” its name.

“Providence is a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, and social change-makers play an important role in powering our city’s economy and finding solutions to our community challenges,” said Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. “I look forward to welcoming leaders in the social innovation field to Providence as Brown hosts the 2014 Ashoka U Exchange.”

"I believe that nowhere in the country is the interest in social entrepreneurship among students stronger than here at Brown,” said Khalil Fuller, who currently balances the role of Brown undergraduate and CEO of NBA Math Hoops, a venture that develops fun and effective educational tools to improve math literacy among youth. “Our professors and administrators are meeting that interest with increasingly well-designed courses and opportunities. Being chosen to host Ashoka U is another way to fan that spark and turn it into a blazing fire of social change!"

For more information on the Ashoka U Exchange, visit http://ashokau.org/exchange.