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Setting the stage for change at Ashoka U Exchange

Featured Events | Mar 15, 2017 |

When you think of Miami, what comes to mind? Palm trees, sunshine, and the ocean?

At this month’s three-day AshokaU Exchange conference, 13 Fordham representatives gathered in Miami for a different kind of experience.

The exchange brought together 750 students, faculty, staff, and alumni from around the world to develop leadership skills, learn about program implementation, and work to advance social innovation in higher education.

Social innovation is the creation of innovative, sustainable, market-based business approaches that benefit society as well as the company. Ashoka is a worldwide organization devoted to social innovation, and it has selected Fordham as one of its 40 worldwide “Changemaker Campuses.”

One of the most inspiring aspects of the Ashoka conference, said Max Lynch, BS ’19, was the ability to share strategies with people from different schools. Whether discussing ideas over breakfast with representatives from Queensland University in Australia or hearing from students at the University of San Diego, the sense of collaboration was ever-present.

In a discussion about difficult-to-solve global issues such as climate change, Carey Weiss, Fordham’s director of sustainability initiatives, found consistency in thinking with colleagues from College of the Atlantic and Singapore Management University, despite being “three totally different schools with totally different approaches.”

Another takeaway? Storytelling was a persistent theme, Lynch noted, because of its potential to create empathy. Connecting with an audience can bring a deeper “understanding to the problems we are working toward making better.”

Looking to the future, Lynch is hoping to bring some of the new ideas he learned about at the conference back to Fordham, such as starting an innovation week.

There’s still work to be done, he said, but “it was exciting to see that Fordham has been doing a lot and how much progress it’s made.”

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