Academic Wanders: the 2015 Ashoka U Exchange

ashoka U ExchangeColleagues from across GCU had the opportunity to officially accept a Changemaker Campus award, in recognition of our global leadership role in promoting social innovation. The ceremony was held at the 2015 Ashoka U Exchange in Washington, DC and the University of Maryland.

The Ashoka U Exchange is the world’s largest gathering for social innovation education, bringing together 650 individuals representing over 120 institutions from more than 20 countries. Professor Simon Teasdale was amongst the GCU delegation and sent us a brief photo diary of the trip.

Thursday

Welcome Reception

Ashoka U officially welcomed GCU as a Changemaker Campus and Principal Pamela Gillies accepted the award on behalf of the university.

Sharing our experiences…

Spent the afternoon advising other campuses on how to develop social innovation education. Assigned to work with the Ontario-based, Wilfred Laurier University. I had spent the previous week visiting various institutes and research groups in Ontario so we had plenty to talk about – not least the -30° weather we had battled against whilst visiting Toronto. Was astonished the country could function amidst these temperatures whilst a light dusting of snow can cause whole cities to shut down at home.

Particularly impressed by the dynamism of Laurier’s young students and look forward to working more closely with them in the future.

Change Leader Dinner

This was one of the few times I’ve visited the US and not suffered jetlag, so made it through to the end of the night. Great to meet with colleagues from Hamilton College (New York State) with whom we went through the Changemaker Campus accreditation process in August last year.

Friday

Exploring global partnerships

Invited to a lunch event exploring ideas and processes around global partnerships – a key concept within the Ashoka U network and something we are keen to build on back home at GCU.

Innovation in the research process

Was involved in a panel session surrounding innovation in the research process. My own presentation centred around on GCU’s MRC/ESRC funded Common Health programme that focuses on developing innovative methods to research social entrepreneurship, health and wellbeing. Interesting discussion on how different institutions and research groups collaborated with a wide range of partners throughout research delivery and design to generate new ideas and solutions.

Discovering D.C

Colleagues from GCU and further afield took the opportunity to explore the city for the evening. My first trip to D.C and very glad I took the opportunity to have a look around!

Saturday

Changing the venue…

Saturday involved a change of scene from Washington city centre to the University of Maryland, one of the first to receive Changemaker Campus status and the host institution for this year’s Ashoka U Exchange. Spent more time in an advisory capacity with staff and students from Wilfred Laurier University and managed to pop out to try and get a photo with Obama (which my kids demanded when they heard I was visiting Washington D.C). Unfortunatel, no presidential photographs but I managed a quick picture in front of his house!

Have a look through our photo reel here:

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