Unlocking the U in University at the 2013 Ashoka U Exchange

Submitted by: Tsega Belachew on 09/25/12

Editor's Note: This article was writen by Andrea Boston, a writer with Ashoka Changemakers.

Picture this: More than 600 social entrepreneurs, university professionals, and students have come together for a weekend in sunny California.

In one room, an Ashoka Fellow presents an interactive TEDxAshokaU workshop on her game-changing experiences in the field. In another, a college student weighs career opportunities with a new mentor. Industry professionals and budding changemakers from 40 countries and 150 institutions have convened on the University of San Diego’s campus to connect, collaborate, and push social entrepreneurship education to its highest potential.

What is this gathering, you ask?

It’s the Ashoka U Exchange, kicking off February 21-23, 2013. Ashoka U Exchange is the world’s largest global conference of its kind, intersecting higher education and social change. Now entering its third year, the Exchange invites entrepreneurs at every stage of growth to “Unlock the U in University” and consider how educational institutions can spark ideas big enough to change the world.

The Exchange creates a platform where thinkers and doers can experiment and trade ideas. It provides an opportunity for university leaders to find partnerships and resources for teaching social entrepreneurship. It’s a space where students can investigate job leads and financial support for new ventures. It’s also an active community where thought leaders can connect with research collaborators, invest in leading ideas, and recruit new hires.

Over 50 presentations and hands-on workshops are currently being crafted to explore new ways to implement social entrepreneurship into university systems—from curriculum development and campus culture, to career services and alumni relations.

Participants will also dive in and share their innovations at the concurrent TEDxAshokaU conference. This year’s TEDx Talks will explore the theme, "To Find Your Place in the Universe," based on a talk given at the 2010 AshokaU Exchange by Bernard Amadei, professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

In his speech, Amadei explains that universities were once revered as places where students could go to “find our place in the universe,” but have lost their way over the years. He says that more engaged, experimental learning related to solving the world's problems, would bring compassion and ingenuity back to higher education.

The spirit of Dr. Amadei’s talk is the undercurrent of both the 2013 Exchange and the TEDxAshokaU conference. The University of San Diego, an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus and this year’s host, will serve as an incubator for discussion and as a living example of experiential learning and changemaking in action. As a “Changemaker Campus,” USD has partnered with Ashoka U to design programs that bolster social and environmental transformation.

Are you interested in transforming our current approach to university education?

 The world's largest global conference intersecting higher education and social change is back! Submit your application  

Visit AshokaU.org/Exchange to learn more.