Tag Archives: Ashoka U

Exploring Social Entrepreneurship at the Ashoka U Exchange

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by: Katie Aranas and Trerese Roberts

Social entrepreneurship is a trending topic around the world, but since it’s a fairly new concept, it can be difficult to understand. The organization Ashoka has made it their mission to build a community where people are “capable of responding quickly and effectively to social challenges, and in which each individual has the freedom, confidence and societal support to address any social problem and drive change.” Part of the organization, Ashoka U, focuses on colleges and universities to catalyze social innovation and social entrepreneurship in higher education. Last month, the group hosted their annual conference, the Ashoka U Exchange, in Miami, FL. There were over 750 participants, 150 colleges involved from around the world, and 100 sessions to attend. During the Exchange, Ashoka U offered site visits, workshops, panels, and keynotes. In addition, attendees were able to network during the lunch breaks.

We attended as student representatives from UMD and leaders of our Enactus chapter.  The first workshop we attended, “Social Entrepreneurship for All”, began by asking audience what the word “entrepreneurship” means to each of us in one word. Immediately, we could see that there was a divide between business and non-business majors when it comes to the field of Social Entrepreneurship. We discussed how to bridge the gap between both groups so that everyone engages in this field. One suggestion was to teach social entrepreneurship as a new ‘language’, while being aware of the terminology that is being used in different groups. Another suggestion made was to go out into the local community to see social entrepreneurship first-hand. Being able to see it in action is one of the best ways to really understand how it works and experience the impact that is gives. James Madison University created the “10-5-3 Challenge” in which students talk to 10 people that they did not know, have 5 questions prepared for those that they talk to, and have 3 stories to tell them about social entrepreneurship.

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UMD Student Entrepreneur Sparks Growth in a Small Japanese Village

This summer, Josh Turskey participated in the Helio program in Japan, a partnership between College of the Atlantic and Ashoka U.  The University of Maryland is an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus and had the opportunity to send one special student on the program to think like an entrepreneur in the higher education industry on a small island in Japan. Our Changemaker Campus designation is led by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

by: Josh Turskey

For an architecture major, I have not traveled many places. I’ve been to Ohio countless times, and traveling to southern Canada is not much different than the landscape of America. With really only one trip out of the continent under by belt, I nervously boarded my flight from Tokyo to Hiroshima not knowing exactly if I was on the right plane.

Upon reaching the Island of Osakikamijima, a small island near Hiroshima City, we were given our mission: My peers and I were to begin critically thinking and laying out the ground work for what a college on the island would look like. We were split into groups to gather information and make recommendations on different pieces of the potential college. Groups focused on agriculture, food systems, sustainability, waste management and urban planning. My peers were from all over the world including Japan, Canada, Ethiopia, Ireland, England and all across the United States.


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