Tulane to host 2016 Ashoka U Exchange


People are gathered around a table talking about social innovation and entrepreneurship, the theme of Ashoka U. 

Robert Marchini, Staff Reporter

Tulane will host the 2016 Ashoka U Exchange, a conference of representatives from 150 global universities that perform social entrepreneurship work and research.

Provost Michael Bernstein announced the news Monday in an email sent to all Tulane faculty, staff and students.

Rebecca Otten, the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching assistant director of social innovation engagement, said Tulane is happy to host the event. 

“Tulane has had a strong delegation of students, staff, and faculty at the Ashoka U Exchange since its inception in 2011,” Otten said. “Everyone that I have spoken to within the social innovation network is thrilled that we were selected to host the Exchange in February 2016.”

Otten said Ashoka is the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with nearly 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 70 countries putting their system changing ideas into practice on a global scale.

The organization was founded in 1980 and has launched the field of social entrepreneurship and activated multi-sector partners across the world who increasingly look to entrepreneurial talent and new ideas to solve social problems.

Ashoka U has only designated 30 colleges and universities around the world — including Brown University, Duke University, Arizona State University and the University of Maryland — as Changemaker Campuses for their work in social innovation. 

“Tulane was designated a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U in 2009,” Otten said. “The Changemaker Campus consortium is a dynamic, global network of leading colleges and universities who commit to advancing social innovation at their campus and beyond.”

Tulane’s School of Architecture currently houses the minor in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship and eight endowed social entrepreneurship professors.

School of Architecture Dean Kenneth Schwartz said that he was honored to serve as founding director and to practice social entrepreneurship at Tulane.

“It is a thrill to work with the dedicated students, faculty, staff and alumni of our institution,” Schwartz said. “The [Ashoka U Exchange] will further demonstrate Tulane’s deep commitment to these issues and our leadership in the field.”