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International Organization Recognizes Hamilton for Social Innovation Efforts


Hamilton College has been designated a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U, the higher education program of Ashoka, an international organization that promotes social innovation to solve society’s most persistent social issues. The designation recognizes Hamilton for being a leader in social innovation education among an exclusive network of only 29 colleges and universities worldwide.

Ashoka plans to announce the new cohort of Changemaker Campuses early in October.

“The Changemaker Campus designation from Ashoka coincides with our belief that Hamilton should prepare students not just to enter the world, but to improve it,” said President Joan Hinde Stewart. “This is an acknowledgement of what we have already done in teaching social innovation and what we will do in the future.”

“The educational goals of students are changing,” said Ashoka U’s co-founder and executive director Marina Kim. “These student demands add a new dimension to the call for innovation in higher education: How can colleges and universities foster the knowledge, skills and dispositions that equip graduates to address increasingly complex global challenges? Every student should get the chance to acquire the skills necessary to make a difference in the world.”

Hamilton College Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Patrick Reynolds said the Ashoka designation emphasizes that “Hamilton’s educational mission is not just on College Hill, but off the hill, into the valley and within communities where our students learn in ways they cannot on campus alone. Being a Changemaker Campus,” Reynolds added, “recognizes how our faculty, staff and students effect change in contemporary ways that resonate with our historic record of alumni engagement in public service and societal development.”

Reynolds said Hamilton students and faculty members will now have access to the Ashoka network of social entrepreneurs and fellows worldwide. The Changemaker Campus designation also identifies Hamilton among a select group of colleges and universities committed to social change, he said.

In a world that is changing faster and faster, students need interdisciplinary, entrepreneurial and solutions-oriented skillsets to succeed, Ashoka U’s Kim said. At the same time, students’ expectations of their educational experiences are changing: 72 percent say that having a job “where I can make a difference” is very important and 65 percent expect to make a social or environmental impact through their work, according to a 2012 Net Impact study conducted by Rutgers University and supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

The Changemaker Campus consortium, according to Ashoka, is a dynamic, global network of leading colleges and universities who commit to advancing social innovation at their campus and beyond. From admission and the curriculum, to career services and alumni engagement, these campuses set the bar for the wider Ashoka U affiliation of 150 colleges and universities worldwide. Over the last five years, only 29 colleges and universities from around the world have been designated Changemaker Campuses. Liberal arts colleges, in addition to Hamilton, include Colorado College, Middlebury College and Rollins College. Other Changemaker Campuses in the original cohort include Arizona State, Brown, Cornell, Dublin City University, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Universidad de Monterrey and the University of Maryland.

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