Our social innovation initiatives work to prepare and support students to address persistent social problems. Programs such as the social innovation fellows, innovation roundtables and the Levitt Center Social Innovation Lab draw together individuals to work to foster creativity and self-awareness to develop novel solutions.
A program designed to prepare and support students who aim to use innovative approaches to address persistent social problems. The program is a weeklong workshop that will be held the last weekend of winter break, January 11 - 16. The program is run by Anke Wessels and modeled after an award-winning course she teaches at Cornell University. Select projects will receive funding, and the fellows will receive guidance in developing networks and mentoring support from alumni and community members.
These fellowships give students the opportunity to take their interest in social innovation beyond college and into their future. There are two grants: the Levitt Social Innovation Fellowship award is for $25,000 and will allow Hamilton graduates to start their own local project to help disadvantaged populations; the Social Sector Fellowship award is for $10,000 that can be used as supplementary income for Hamilton graduates who wish to work at the local government or a non-profit.
Innovation Fridays at the Levitt Center happen throughout the year and feature multiple activities and programs that focus on social innovation. What is social innovation? It is "a novel solution to a social problem that is more efficient, effective, sustainable, or just than existing solutions..." (Stanford Social Innovation Review). Innovation Fridays will include Innovation Roundtables, lunches, workshops and office hours in the newly renovated Social Innovation Lab.
A Levitt Center program designed to draw together individuals to discuss and address a specific, long-standing social problem. The facilitator, often a faculty member, introduces a social problem and leads an initial discussion to create an on-going, collective effort to address the issue in a meaningful way. Roundtables meet on Friday afternoons and attract students, faculty, staff and community members. All members of the Hamilton community are welcome to propose and lead an Innovation Roundtable.
The new addition to the Levitt Center is suited for group brainstorming with five different rooms: four being smaller gathering spaces, while one is a bigger meeting area. All have with white boards on the walls and comfortable seating. The spaces are designed to support student innovators as they work to develop novel solutions to persistent social problems. Students are encouraged to reserve time in the lab to collaborate with their peers on an issue they are passionate about. You can reserve the spaces using Hamilton's scheduling program 25 Live.
Hamilton is an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. Ashoka U is an initiative of Ashoka, the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs. Building on Ashoka’s vision for a world where Everyone is a Changemaker, Ashoka U takes an institutional change approach to impact the education of millions of students. They collaborate with colleges and universities to break down barriers to institutional change and foster a campus-wide culture of social innovation.
As a part of Innovation Fridays, we will host Innovation Workshops focused on topics as varied as ethics, institutional change and entrepreneurship. We hope that the wide-ranging subjects will spark the interests of students involved in many different aspects of campus life.
Hamilton is a member of the Clinton Global University Initiative network, an organization that convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. Funding will be available for select students whose “commitment to action” project is accepted by CGIU.
At different times throughout the year, social innovators and entrepreneurs will be available on campus to help students develop ideas and projects that seek to address a long standing social problem in innovative and creative ways. The Innovator-in-Residence will be available to meet with individuals or groups during office hours and will offer a workshop.
Tsion Tesfaye '16 (aka "T") was born and raised in Ethiopia and is concerned about the problem of brain drain; talented students leaving Ethiopia and never returning. With that impetus, T, as a sophomore, became a Levitt Social Innovation Fellow. She designed and implemented a six-week program for 15 high school students in Ethiopia, during which they were introduced to the concept of social innovation and began to think about how they might address persistent social problems in their own country.