Ashoka U Recognizes Socially Innovative Schools

Field-based research, social innovation program among the winners.
Ashoka U Recognizes Socially Innovative Schools

Four schools that are leaders in integrating social impact into their programs recently were honored by Ashoka U as 2017 Cordes Innovation Award winners. Ashoka U is an initiative of the Ashoka network of social entrepreneurs; it is dedicated to fostering change and social innovation on campuses worldwide.

In the category of Academic Learning, Santa Clara University in California was recognized for its Global Social Benefit Fellowship. The nine-month, field- based action research program sends undergraduates to work alongside social entrepreneurs in developing countries.

In the category of Student Pathways, Amani Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, won for its postgraduate certificate in social innovation management. The master’s-equivalent program is a nine-month hybrid program that takes place in “hub cities” in emerging markets, currently Nairobi and São Paulo, Brazil. (For more details, see “Changemaker U” in the November/December 2016 issue of BizEd.)

In the category of Services and Student Affairs, Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, won for its Creating Emory initiative. The program introduces all new undergraduates to issues of integrity, diversity, and prevention of interpersonal violence through a student orientation program focused on the notion of deliberately creating the Emory community. A working group is exploring how to scale the program across all undergraduate and graduate programs.

In the category of Community Partnerships, Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland was recognized for Common Good First, a digital platform designed to showcase and connect community-led social impact projects. Funded by the EU and supported by the government of Scotland, the program initially will launch in South Africa; a consortium of 12 institutions in Europe and South Africa will work with community partners to create digital storytelling modules to improve digital literacy in their regions.

The judging panel considered four criteria when selecting the winning projects: innovation, replication, maturity, and impact of the projects. Finalists were recognized in March at Ashoka U Exchange, a gathering that highlights globally relevant models of social innovation in higher education.

For more details about winners and runners-up, visit

For information about these initiatives, visit and