A Space to Innovate

by Cameron Keegan '18
January 28, 2016

Cameron is a sophomore studying Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations. In the future, he hopes to integrate his passions for public speaking, creative content marketing, and planning into mission-driven work.

At first, there was silence––but as the hands started to pop up, there was no stopping each student’s passion and insight.

We at the Changemaker Collective had arrived at our Social Action House workshop not only to spread our mission, but to fulfill it. As a newly formed student group, we strive to create a community for social innovation at Brown––a necessity missing from our campus. More importantly, being a collective, we want to be defined by what students most need, and so we couldn’t wait to hear from those at the workshop.

At the beginning of our workshop, we kicked off the evening with the typical social innovation exercise: “Think of a problem or issue you have lived or experienced, and come up with a solution that only someone who experiences the issue first-hand can come up with.”

After hearing about issues such as global poverty and access to education, we established a rhythm––and soon, everyone seemed to be in touch with their inner innovator. Finally, we moved to the meat of the discussion: “As students interested in social innovation, what do you want from your university and community?”

Though the room fell silent at first, soon every hand had something insightful to say. From discussion panels, to inclusive language, to websites and newsletters, we heard firsthand what students crave from the social innovation community.

More importantly, these students’ suggestions reaffirmed our theory all along––that there is strong demand for a student group like the Changemaker Collective.

It all started when a few of us recognized that social innovation opportunities on campus were either student groups distantly related to social innovation or fellowships for those wanting to start a venture. But what about a space for those who just want to learn? For those who want to apply themselves to a project or internship related to social innovation? For students who want to hear about other students’ passions?

This is the space we want to create: Brown’s unmistakable social innovation community where students can connect with different opportunities, and with each other.

At the end of the day, we want to be defined by our name: collective. Creating a whole community is a big undertaking, but no matter where we go from here, we know one thing for sure––Brown needs a social innovation community defined by its students.