Giving Compass' Take:

• Founders of Ashoka U share how embedding changemaking practices into operations at higher institutions will build resiliency in leadership and prepare schools for future challenges. 

• How can donors support changemaking practices in higher ed? How does this connect to resiliency? 

• Read more about higher education philanthropy. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced colleges and universities to shut down their campuses—moving classes online and radically transforming their instruction and grading—and many in higher education are grappling with how to meet the moment. How best to serve their students and communities, focus public health research on the crisis, and produce useful medical supplies and equipment? None of us know how the world will look after COVID-19, but a crisis like this only underscores the importance of innovative and resilient institutions that prepare students to be innovative and resilient themselves.

When we founded Ashoka U in 2008, many people told us that higher education was a dinosaur, increasingly irrelevant, and resistant to change. However, we have seen a different reality working with hundreds of colleges and universities around the world who are proving that higher education can be a powerful force for social impact.

To kick off our in-depth series “Innovating Higher Education for the Greater Good,” we’d like to highlight some of the key insights we’ve learned from our global community of higher education changemakers. As outlined in the publication, Changemaker Institutions, we believe that social innovation in higher education is as much a process as an outcome, both an educational and an organizational change approach.

In our work with over 500 colleges and universities—including approximately 50 designated as Ashoka U Changemaker Campuses—we’ve found four key principles that foster changemaking graduates and community outcomes. These may seem like common knowledge to those with change management experience across other sectors, but they can be counter-culture in higher education, too often characterized by incentives and power structures that promote competition, silos, and risk aversion.

  1. Aligning Vision and Strategy
  2. Multi-Directional Change Leadership
  3. Empowering Values
  4. Systems Leadership

Read the full article about higher education and social change by Marina Kim & Dr. Angie Fuessel at Stanford Social Innovation Review.