Curated Story
Source: Ashoka

Open-Source Learning

This article originally appeared on Stanford Social Innovation Review

In Fall 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and mass mobilizations against systemic racism create an array of new challenges for colleges and universities that prioritize social innovation. Middlebury is one of them. For decades, faculty committed to research- and project-based learning and staff in our Center for Community Engagement, and elsewhere on campus, have prepared students to address the world’s most challenging problems. Over the last ten years, Middlebury further expressed its commitment to help students become innovators through its designation as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus in 2011 and the creation of a center for social entrepreneurship (now the Innovation Hub) in 2012. Like universities and colleges everywhere, we now find ourselves challenged to help students attend to the reverberations of the global pandemic and, in the words of President Laurie Patton, “to center our work on the anti-Black racism that permeates our lives.” Our students, led by our Black students, demand no less.

To meet the challenge, we are tapping into Middlebury’s culture of collaborative, student-centric innovation. In our rural Vermont landscape, “The Strength of the Hills”—as inscribed on the college’s Mead Chapel—has always framed our commitment to innovation, and since 1965, our Environmental Studies students have studied the diverse human-environment relationships in the unique clayplain forest of the Champlain Valley. But the educational ecosystem that Middlebury faculty and staff have created over the last two decades is not place dependent: the key is that our primary agent of change is the student.

Continue Reading

Ashoka insight

Four lessons from that multi-year process are likely to help leaders at Middlebury—and, I believe, at other institutions—to navigate the years ahead as the world rebuilds after COVID-19 and the United States recommits to reckoning with its legacy of systemic racism.

  1. Convert Fear and Anger Into Action
  2. Invert the Hierarchy
  3. Coordinate Learning Inside and Outside of the Classroom
  4. Above All, Teach Empathy