University of Colorado at Boulder Changemaker Campus

The University of Colorado at Boulder is distinguished as a national leader in research and teaching of both social entrepreneurship and sustainability. Cross-campus initiatives in social entrepreneurship are supported by the Leeds School of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Engineering. Two residential academic programs (RAPs) –Sustainability and Social Innovation and Sustainable by Design—housed in a LEED-platinum residential hall provide freshmen with a year-long integrated, interdisciplinary curriculum linking social entrepreneurship, sustainability, and design. Each semester, cash prizes are awarded to RAP students’ collaborative course projects at EXPO; RAP students also may participate in the Social Impact track of the cross-campus New Venture Challenge case competition, sponsored by the Leeds School of Business and internships directed by RAP faculty.

Sustainability and Social Innovation RAP (Residential Academic Program)

Sustainability and Social Innovation RAP is an experiential skills-based program for students concerned about sustainability and innovation issues. The program is uniquely multi-disciplinary, seeking critical engagement from students interested in identifying sustainable solutions to diverse global challenges including resource depletion and conservation, climate change, poverty, environmental protection, and economic instability. Our teaching faculty includes professors in architecture, engineering, political science, writing, biology, psychology, anthropology, business and sociology. SSI courses challenge the status quo and emphasize collaborative problem-solving and social innovation - through design, debate, planning, project development, writing, and creative enterprise.  In small classes of usually no more than 22 students, and through RAP activities and events, students develop a strong knowledge base, entrepreneurial savvy, communications skills, technology literacy, teamwork skills, and compassionate understanding.

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Sustainable by Design (SbD) RAP

Sponsored jointly by the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering (CEAE) and the Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities within CEAE, the Sustainable by Design RAP focuses on sustainability of both built and natural environments, particularly targeting energy and water, two topics of regional and global importance.  The SbD curriculum exposes students to the complete design process through a sequence of inception, information collection, planning, design tradeoff analyses based on systems modeling, incorporation of economic and social constraints, and presentation of sustainable design solutions to guide planning and resource allocation decisions. Use of graphical and visualization techniques are key skills developed. The SbD RAP attracts students from across campus curious about resource-efficient design, renewable energy, and the environmental and social impacts of community development.

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Susan Clarke, Ph.D. Faculty Dir., Sustainability & Social Innovation RAP

The University of Colorado at Boulder first became an Ashoka Changemaker Campus in 2009, based on efforts of SEED@CU--an interdisciplinary group of faculty researching social entrepreneurship in non-Western settings. The opportunity to propose a new RAP focused on social entrepreneurship and sustainability (originally called SEEDS) led to development of an integrated curriculum for freshmen. RAP students share two courses—Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability in the Fall, Social Innovation and Design for Sustainable Communities in the Spring. In addition to the popular student EXPOs, diverse extracurricular activities relevant to the RAP themes are also offered. Mentoring is highlighted, including  a Faculty in Residence, graduate Teaching Resident Assistants who live in the residence hall and participate in the RAP classes, and undergraduate Peer Mentors recruited from previous RAP cohorts.

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Francy S. Milner Instructor at the Sustainability and Social Innovation RAP Associate Director and Instructor for the Center for Education on Social Responsibility, Leeds School of Business

In 2008 I created a course I called “Business Solutions to Global Poverty” and my students wrote case studies for the Peace Corps, highlighting the efforts of Peace Corps volunteers who worked with microenterprises in developing countries.  The course was fluid, innovative and experimental … and we felt that we were on the leading edge of something we hadn’t named, but later found was called “social entrepreneurship.”  In 2010 the course was recognized by Ashoka as one of the top ten most rigorous and innovative exemplars of syllabi collected.  After exploring the world of social entrepreneurship with upper classmen and MBA students, I now share the excitement of 1st semester freshmen in our RAP who are discovering and developing their own big ideas for social change.

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Matthew Jelacic Assistant Professor of Environmental Design; Adjunct Faculty member, Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities; and Faculty-in-Residence of the Sustainability and Social Innovation Residential Academic Programs

Matthew Jelacic’s current research includes sustainable materials for sheltering displaced people and the role of alternative organizational paradigms for traumatic urbanization planning.  In 2009 he began working with the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation to develop a job training program and affordable homes made with compressed earth block.  Following the 2010 Haitian earthquake, he began developing several projects that will provide employment opportunities and affordable shelter.  One program, funded by 1000 Jobs/Haiti and in cooperation with Partners in Health, will use a material that he invented which combines recycled plastic and adobe-like mud to make blocks. In early 2011 he served as a member of the USAID task force on post-disaster infrastructure reconstruction.  Jelacic received his architecture degrees at Pratt Institute, where he received the AIA Henry Adams Medal, and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, was a Harvard Loeb Fellow in 2003-4, studied international human rights law at Oxford University in 2008 and was a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Scholar in Residence in 2009.

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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.