Beeta Ansari

Beeta is Ashoka U’s Exchange Director, the world’s largest global convening for social entrepreneurship education.

Honoring our Mission, Evolving our Model

If you are reading this blog, it’s likely that you are someone who is both inspired by the vision of higher education as a driver of changemaking and a member of the Ashoka U community.

In just 12 years, Ashoka U has selected 51 Changemaker Campuses globally, engaged 600 colleges and universities in Ashoka U programs, and supported over 4000 educators and senior administrators as they designed and taught courses, produced research, and created and implemented strategy. We also catalyzed over 2 million students to gain education and skill-building in changemaking and social innovation.

Together we are a force.

Just as the world is shifting, we are also coming to terms with a natural evolution of our role, what we can offer, and what we need to become. There is no doubt that higher education is at a pivotal point of change. And Ashoka U is changing with it.

In the coming months, Ashoka U will be undergoing a significant evolution of our strategy, going from a centralized, programmatic model to a decentralized network focused on spreading ideas, enabling the leadership of our partners, and building collaborations with key Ashoka Country Offices and programs (e.g., Fellowship and Ashoka Young Changemakers).

From a Nascent Concept to a Robust Community

In many ways we have exceeded our expectations from when we launched Ashoka U in 2008. Since then, higher education has embraced and integrated social innovation and changemaking to such a degree that it is increasingly the norm.  Today, there is an incredible global community of higher ed innovators. Post-secondary institutions are becoming wired for social impact and innovation, made evident by Changemaker Campuses, and for the past decade the Exchange has served as a global convening of social impact educators. We’ve also created three Councils to iterate upon and evolve the Exchange to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

There is now codified knowledge about what it takes for colleges and universities to foster a world where everyone can be a changemaker. We have written several seminal publications on curricular change, impact measurement, and institutional transformation. The stories of Changemaker Campuses have been featured in articles, publications, and most recently in a special 15-part series co-curated with the Stanford Social Innovation Review,  “Innovating Higher Education for the Greater Good.”

To both celebrate and offer a view of what’s next, in a matter of weeks we will launch Becoming a Changemaker Institution, a new Ashoka U publication that draws on more than a decade of insights and work with over 600 higher education institutions around the world. We hope Becoming a Changemaker Institution can provide the needed inspiration and best practices to spark institution-wide change.

Beyond Ashoka U’s thought leadership, our network of Changemaker Campus students, leaders, and senior administrators have spoken on countless panels and been featured in dozens of conferences — and even started conferences of their own on the topic of social innovation in higher education.

Ashoka’s Call to Action for Higher Education

Moving forward, our operational model will shift from a heavy emphasis on programs to increasingly focus on spreading ideas, enabling leadership across our network of partners, and building collaborations with key Ashoka programs.

To help bring this new model to life, the virtual 2021 Exchange (taking place the week of March 15th) will be an opportunity to celebrate your impact, connect directly with other leaders, changemakers, and Ashoka programs, and contribute to defining with Ashoka a new path forward for higher education.

So, if you have crossed paths with Ashoka U and have been part of our journey to date, we want you there — whether as a speaker, a facilitator, or an attendee. If you have not yet engaged in one of our Ashoka U Exchange convenings, we invite you to join us and experience the magic, love, generosity, and collaborative spirit that emerges when we come together.

In the interim, Ashoka U will continue to play a dot-connector and bridge builder role, ensuring that pathways for collaboration between our community and Ashoka grow stronger. We also share below additional ways to continue engaging with Ashoka U:

  • The 2021 Exchange will be an opportunity network to connect directly with Ashoka Fellows and Ashoka programs, including Next Now and Ashoka Young Changemakers.
  • The AshokaU.org will stay live for several years to come and will evolve into a repository of publications, resources, inspiration, and content.
  • Our soon-to-launch guidebook “Becoming a Changemaker Institution” will be a useful roadmap that draws from over a decade of experience working with approximately 50 Changemaker Campuses through a transformation process.
  • The Changemaker Campus network will continue to live on and will be available if you are looking for content experts on higher education innovation.
  • All aspects of Ashoka U Connect (including the newsletter and Slack channel) will remain active until August 31, 2021.
  • News U Can Use, our monthly newsletter will continue to be distributed through at least March 31, 2021.

As always, we welcome your insights and feedback. Please reach out bansari@ashoka.org with questions or to explore more about how this new iteration of Ashoka U can continue to serve your work.