Majoring in changing the world

August 25, 2010

ASU selected to join prestigious Changemaker Campus Consortium

Arizona State University students want to make a difference and change the world. Now, not after they graduate. Download Full Image

That passion and commitment to higher education as an agent for positive social transformation has earned ASU a coveted place in the Changemaker">">Changemaker Campus Consortium, announced today by" target="_blank">Ashoka U.

Ashoka U is a branch of Ashoka, a global non-profit network of more than 2,500 social entrepreneurs. Its mission is to support universities and colleges that seek to be leaders in social entrepreneurship education.

ASU, Duke University and Marquette University, also named as new Changemaker Campuses, join seven others – Babson College, College of the Atlantic, George Mason University, The New School, Tulane University, University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Maryland – previously chosen by Ashoka U to comprise its Changemaker Campus Consortium.

ASU is the first Changemaker Campus in the Southwest and brings important leadership to the region, as 80 percent of the leading social entrepreneurs in the United States are currently based on the east and west coasts.

"What makes Arizona State University unique is its combination of a bold vision for higher education and its wholehearted dedication to reaching that vision,” said Marina Kim, director of Ashoka U. “The leadership has already created radical structural changes to catalyze interdisciplinary solutions to world challenges, and they are committed to furthering this approach. Ashoka is proud to work with ASU as a leader among Changemaker Campuses."

Selected through a competitive application process, each Changemaker Campus has made a compelling case for moving its university towards becoming a hub of social innovation and an environment that enables everyone to become a changemaker.

According to Kim, Ashoka selected ASU because of its demonstrated commitment to creating and sustaining an environment where everyone has access to the resources, learning opportunities, role models and peer community needed to actualize their full potential as agents for change.

Ashoka also recognized ASU as a leader in the field, in part, because of its academic programs such as the new B.S. in technological entrepreneurship and management that gives students the option to specialize in social entrepreneurship.

“A powerful feature of the College">">College of Technology and Innovation's social entrepreneurship curriculum is our problem-based learning approach in which students work in teams to identify community needs, design and prototype solutions, and implement the solution to build a sustainable venture,” said Mitzi Montoya, executive dean. “Project sites will be local and global, from Arizona to sub-Saharan Africa.”

As part of the Changemaker Campus Consortium, ASU will share its experience to help set a global standard for excellence in social entrepreneurship education. As a member of the Changemaker Campus Consortium, ASU will benefit from Ashoka training, network access, and best practices to advance ASU’s social entrepreneurship efforts in six areas of campus activity: teaching, research, applied learning, resources, role models and community/culture.

On Aug. 27 and 28, representatives from the Changemaker Campuses will participate in the Ashoka Fall Institute in Washington, D.C.

Charis Elliott is a graduate student in social justice and social entrepreneur who founded a fair trade nonprofit organization, Las Otras Hermanas (LOH), in March 2008 with support from ASU’s EDSON">">EDSON Student Entrepreneur Initiative. Elliott is a member of the ASU Changemaker Advisory Board and will attend the Fall Institute.

“Social entrepreneurship is about bringing ideas with social value into a sustainable reality,” Elliott said. “I believe that ASU is full of creative thinkers and problem-solvers looking for tools and direction. The partnership with Ashoka will bring increased awareness of social entrepreneurship and will support students’ creativity, innovation and inspiration, which will ultimately make an impact in communities around the world.”

Richard Filley, director of ASU’s Engineering">">Engineering Projects In Community Service (EPICS) program also is on the Ashoka Advisory Board. EPICS at ASU, he said, is one example of many social entrepreneurship programs that gives students the chance to get involved now and tackle real-world challenges faced by not-for-profit organizations of all types, both here and abroad. 

Students, faculty, and staff are invited to join the university in its efforts to champion solutions to today’s most pressing challenges by becoming a member of the Ashoka Advisory Board.

To learn more about the Ashoka partnership and for information about how to join the Ashoka Advisory Board, contact Jacqueline Smith, University Innovation Fellow in the Office of University Initiatives at Jacqueline.V.Smith">">

Sharon Keeler

Research in Ghana yields new partners, challenges

August 25, 2010

ASU’s GlobalResolve traveled again to Ghana over the summer to build on its successful partnerships and product prototypes.

GlobalResolve, administered within the College of Technology and Innovation, is a social entrepreneurship program designed to enhance the educational experience of ASU students through semester-long projects that directly improve the lives of people in underdeveloped nations. Download Full Image

This latest visit, which brought together the largest cohort to date (9 students and 5 faculty), yielded a new village partner, an added source of raw materials for creating gel fuel and a stove prototype that is culturally sensitive to the needs and situations of people in Africa.

“We’ve been to Africa five times now and each time we make a little progress," said Mark Henderson, engineering professor and GlobalResolve co-founder. "Our overall goal is to setup a village-venture through products. This time we went back to continue the process of setting up a gel fuel business.”

The initiative continues to focus on gel fuel production technology and a twig light device, and is adding a stove to the mix. The twig light, developed by mechanical engineering technology graduate student Michael Pugliese, uses twigs, water, a thermoelectric generator and an LED array to provide light. The gel fuel production technology involves a process to turn corn into gel fuel, but that might change. 

“We have setup the production of ethanol from corn in the village of Domeabra, but during this last visit we came in contact with the village of Akawli, which can produce the base of the gel fuel from sugarcane,” Henderson said. “We hope that in one year our products will propagate and increase the economic development of the villages.”

Last year a gel fuel burning stove was first brought to Ghana, but was limited in its use, according to feedback provided by villagers. This year, to ensure the needs of the village were being addressed, a new design team was asked to develop a stove that will be user-friendly, efficient, and have wider usage.

The team, made up of John Takamura, assistant professor of industrial design, and undergraduate researcher Aaron Smith, from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, served as the industrial designers of the GlobalResolve team, conducting user-centered research and providing design ideas for the stove.

“This opportunity was to see how villagers cook and use their existing stoves, and see how it could be applied to the gel fuel stove," Takamura said. "Moreover, how the gel fuel stove could be modified, changed or improved to fit the needs of the village.”

For Smith, the experience was an opportunity to expand his skills as a designer, dispel assumptions and understand firsthand the challenges of life in extreme poverty.

“People don't want to be handed a ‘thing’ to solve their problems," Smith said. "They want to be empowered to solve their problems with a long-term sustainable solution, given the chance they will work hard and become committed to that which empowers them.”

Smith has spent the summer contributing to the process of developing several prototypes of the stove and plans to return to Africa next year to test his solutions.

To help get some of these ventures off the ground, GlobalResolve plans to offer fellowships for junior- and senior-level students to spend extended time in the villages. For more information about the fellowships, send an e-mail to globalresolve">">

To learn more, support or join GlobalResolve visit" target="_blank">