College of the Atlantic Changemaker Campus

College of the Atlantic (www.coa.edu) sits by the ocean on Mount Desert Island, Maine, with students and faculty numbering less than four hundred. Disciplinary silos are foreign, since all students learn the College’s interdisciplinary approach to experiencing and solving complex problems through its one major, human ecology. COA’s intimate community also beholds a monumental accomplishment: the first carbon neutral college in the world. As a founding member of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, COA helped spark a global movement for sustainability in higher education. And through programs like the Sustainable Enterprise Hatchery, students can experience the high wire of social entrepreneurship with a net: an incubator that gives students access to funding, office space, and support for up to 9 months after graduation (http://coa.edu/sustainable-business.htm).

Sustainable Enterprise Hatchery

From high scale disruption of urban agriculture, converting waste into bio-fuel and an internationally recognized advocacy organization to oral histories, film production and community development, students in COA’s Sustainable Enterprise Incubator (The Hatchery) do it all. Building on the College’s interdisciplinary tradition the Hatchery is a mash-up of enterprises without regards to size, scale and sector. This ecosystem of diverse ventures brings in a multitude of perspectives, sparking innovation. COA’s approach incorporates essential business knowledge, design thinking, mentoring, capital and office space and distributes them to an array of entrepreneurs regardless of their background. We have developed a model, which works across sectors to teach universal skills to increase their likelihood of success.

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Jay Friedlander Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business

“In 1994, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mauritania’s Sahara desert. The desert was often like a crucible, evaporating away everything except for the core elements of life. In this crucible I realized that business ran throughout every facet of our existence. Furthermore, because of its ubiquity business is an enormous lever of change for better or worse. Business could be a force of ruin, such as the slavery still practiced in some parts of the country. Business could also promote positive change. For example, a group of women who formed a fencing co-op could now afford better nutrition, healthcare, education for their kids and improved the lives of their families. I realized that changing the way business was done could change the world.”

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Changemaker Campus

Launched in 2008, Ashoka offers the Changemaker Campus designation to leading institutions in social innovation education. These institutions share the vision for higher education to become the next global driver of social change by transforming the educational experience into a world-changing experience.