Portland State University Changemaker Campus

With 30,000 students, Portland State University is Oregon’s largest and most diverse public university, located in one of America’s most progressive cities. Our motto, “Let Knowledge Serve the City,” reflects our belief in the power of the university to affect real change: generating knowledge, testing ideas, and refining and applying solutions to real-world problems. The next generation of solutions requires unprecedented collaboration across disciplines and between scholars and practitioners. This is where we shine. Our 50-acre campus serves as a vibrant living laboratory for innovation and community-based learning. A university-wide capstone program ensures that all students work with the broader community to tackle civic, social and environmental challenges. Signature programs include: Institute for Sustainable Solutions, Sustainable Water, Energy and Environmental Technologies Lab, and Impact Entrepreneurs.

Impact Entrepreneurs - ELP & SII

Through the Entrepreneurial Leadership Program (ELP), PSU business school faculty have taught business fundamentals, social innovation, and leadership effectiveness to more than 100 social enterprise leaders from Mercy Corps, Digital Divide Data, Save the Children, World Vision, and other organizations. ELP equips these leaders with the skills they need to improve their organization’s financial, social and environmental performance. In Indonesia, one participant adapted an ELP module to train 30 local youth, from which three new social businesses emerged. In Zimbabwe, a participant used ELP tools to develop a program that has now issued 51 grants to help more than 500 children with disabilities get health care and assistive devices. Impact Entrepreneurs’ Social Innovation Incubator (SII) assists early-stage social entrepreneurs in launching market-based innovations that generate systemic social and environmental benefits. SII provides startup business advising, access to PSU’s network of advisors, volunteers and funders, discounts on services and events, and engagement with a community of peers. In its May 2011 issue, Fast Company selected the SII as one of America’s 51 brilliant urban ideas. Since its launch in 2010, the SII has supported 17 social ventures. 60% of SII members are women entrepreneurs or executives.

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Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS)

The ISS advances sustainability research, education and outreach at Portland State. Research: PSU faculty are leading research initiatives on sustainability topics as varied as stream restoration, glacial changes, urban design and communities, farming and biotech, greening schools, solar electricity, waste water management, and the sustainable food industry, among many others. Teaching: ISS supports undergraduate and graduate-level courses related to sustainability across 12 schools and departments, as well as education and training opportunities for community members.  PSU students don’t just read about sustainability, they make it happen—planting green roofs, testing solar arrays, tracking transportation systems, and tending organic gardens. Outreach: There are numerous co-curricular ways students can engage in sustainability. The Solutions Generator provides an opportunity for teams of faculty, staff, students, and community members to submit proposals for innovative solutions to pressing sustainability issues. Members of Engineers Without Borders assess and implement projects that provide for basic human needs. The Permaculture Guild connects students with campus and city-wide projects and supports the local sustainable food movement.  Students can also choose to spend their freshman year in a “Living Learning Community,” where they live together in campus housing and take part in projects to create a more livable society. And lastly, seniors in capstone courses work with businesses, nonprofits, and civic organizations to address sustainability issues.

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Sustainable Water, Energy and Environmental Technologies Laboratory (SWEETLab)

SWEETLab develops and implements technologies for the support of life in remote environments. A key thread of SWEETLab’s research focuses on the use of improved data collection to better monitor the use of development technologies in the field. The SWEET Lab research team has sponsored programs in Rwanda, Kenya, Mexico, Indonesia, Guatemala, India and Haiti, in partnership with Mercy Corps, Bridges to Prosperity, The Lemelson Foundation, and a Gates Foundation sub-grant. In 2012, SWEETLab managed the distribution of efficient cookstoves and water filters to approximately 750,000 households in western Rwanda, giving millions access to clean drinking water, helping reduce demand for wood fuel, and reducing health risks from soot exposure.

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Jacen Greene Director, Impact Entrepreneurs

Jacen Greene is the director of Portland State University's Impact Entrepreneurs initiative, a set of programs that support social entrepreneurs at every stage of their journey. At Portland State, Jacen teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses and field studies in social entrepreneurship, co-designed the online Certificate in Social Innovation, and manages an award-winning case writing program. He has previously worked or taught in India, China, Cambodia, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Jacen graduated Beta Gamma Sigma with an MBA in sustainability from Portland State University and magna cum laude with a B.A. in China Studies from Willamette University.

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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.