Ashoka U offers six unique Commons topics – referred to as Cohorts. Each Cohort guides participants as they advance a core component of the social innovation ecosystem at their institution. We encourage you to browse through our Cohorts below and let us know how to identify a best fit! For a preview of our incredible expertise that guides each Commons session, take a peek at our currently serving Commons Coaches this Fall 2017.

The next session of the Commons will run from February 2018 – May 2018. Our application to participate is currently open through January 22, 2018.

Making the Case for Changemaking Education – Designed for institutions that are beginning to get social innovation off the ground, this Cohort supports participants as they develop a vision and plan to gain support for a broader changemaking initiative. By reframing the university as an ecosystem, this cohort will require participants to consider institutional stakeholders and how they can contribute.

Creating a Social Innovation Course – In some cases the most direct way to reach students with social innovation learning opportunities is through a registered course. Courses allow students to engage with the subject irrespective of their capacity to participate in co-curricular (or extracurricular) programming, and in a familiar format. Participants will reference diverse examples of existing courses and draw on modular course structures to build a syllabus that is committee-ready.

Building a Social Innovation Course Sequence – Course sequences allow students to gain deeper experience in the many different facets of social innovation, build student identity, and can further legitimize the subject’s academic merit at an institution. Before building, institutions must consider the pros and cons of different forms such as certificates, concentrations, majors, and minors. Due to the typically long timeline for developing a course sequence, this cohort focuses on sharing ideas with peers and creating a thoughtful plan for the desired effect at the institution and elements of the course sequence itself.

Launching Co-Curricular Venture Programs – Incubators, accelerators, and other forms of venture support help students take ideas to reality, often removing barriers along the way. They have the potential to increase student success, align student projects with social challenges, and teach valuable lessons in the event of failure. This cohort will cover details such as where to house these programs, how to frame their purpose, and support the development of program objectives.

Mapping Student Learning Journeys – Once social innovation programs and curriculum have been created on a campus, it’s important to make sure students are aware of existing opportunities. Taking this one step further, students should also understand how their participation in a particular offering fits on their path towards becoming a changemaker. This cohort zooms out to look at offerings across campus in aggregate, and dig in to the best ways to communicate potential learning journeys to students.

Building Allies and Raising Awareness – In order to truly embed social innovation and changemaking ideas into the institution there must be a campus wide team of innovators and allies. The process to bring together the right team of stakeholders however, usually involves quite a bit of work. This cohort looks at different structures for campus-wide teams and guides participants in making a plan to build their own cross-campus team.

Each cohort of the Commons is facilitated by a Coach with in-depth knowledge of social innovation and an understanding of the field that is aligned with Ashoka U’s philosophy. Click here to view past Commons Coaches.


Not sure which cohort is right for you?  

Book a time to chat with Ali Fraenkel, our Commons Manager.