Professor Stephanie Berzin, the co-chair of the Center for Social Innovation at Boston College, is a designated “Change Leader” by Ashoka, an organization supporting social entrepreneurs across the world.
In February, Berzin presented at the organization’s annual Ashoka U Exchange meeting, which this year took place on the campus of the University of Maryland. Berzin’s talk was entitled “Engaging the Community: The Social Innovation Lab.”
“One of the principal goals of Ashoka is to find and showcase leaders in innovation in higher education,” says Michele Leaman, the director of the organization’s Changemaker Campus Program. “Stephanie is one of these leaders.
“We’re always impressed with her ability to find innovative ways to support existing social service organizations and the problems they encounter. And she’s able to model her ideas on her own work. That’s so important.”
Berzin directs the Social Innovation Lab at BCSSW, a guided, nine-month learning experience designed to help participating agencies develop innovative solutions to social problems. By the end of the Lab process, the agencies have pilot tested core elements of their social innovation prototype. The Lab also helps the agencies to become self-sufficient innovators, so that they can continue to engage in social innovation after the Lab experience has been completed.
As a designated Change Leader, Berzin also had the opportunity to work closely with a partner university in a mentoring role during the conference. For two hours, the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla, Mexico (UPAEP) had an opportunity to learn from Berzin’s expertise, and to begin to develop a strategic planning process for growing social innovation programs on their own campus.
“Working with UPAEP provided the chance to learn from another institution that is in a different place in terms of their social innovation work,” says Berzin. “I functioned as mentor, but really we worked as reciprocal allies, sparking new ideas and fueling creativity about the potential for social innovation on campus.”
Boston College is one of 30 Changemaker Campuses worldwide recognized by Ashoka for its work in social innovation education. Learn more about what this means on their website.