There are educational institutions that change with the times, and then there are those that foster change.
Royal Roads University was recently recognized as a leader for change and social innovation by the Ashoka U Changemaker Campus Network. Founded in 1980, Ashoka is one of the largest global networks of social entrepreneurs and changemakers in the world.
Ashoka U’s co-founder and executive director, Marina Kim, said students need interdisciplinary, entrepreneurial and solutions-oriented skill sets to succeed in a complex world that is changing at an accelerated pace.
“Students are all seeking meaning and a viable career path where they can thrive and contribute,” Kim said in a statement. “Social innovation skills focus on developing empathy, creativity, collaboration and problem solving and prepare students to add value to the world, regardless of whether they innovate within existing organizations or start their own organization.”
The Ashoka U Changemaker Campus designation involves a rigorous process that proves to external reviewers that the univesity is making change within its communities, said Steve Grundy, vice-president, academic and provost for RRU.
“We thought the Ahoka designation was perfect for Royal Roads,” he noted.
“The majority of our students are required to do an applied project as part of their degree. Many of them pick projects that impact their community or their business or affect public policy, and so we felt it was a good match for Royal Roads to be designated as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus.”
Change making at RRU begins with a student-centred approach to flexible admissions and is an integral part of a university-wide learning and teaching model and an interdisciplinary, applied research focus.
The Colwood campus’s progressive model of education delivers applied and professional graduate and undergraduate programs. It is home to Canada’s first applied research doctorate, and certificate and diploma programs. Royal Roads provides opportunities for full-time students, working professionals and lifelong learners to create positive changes in their lives, work and communities, and on the global stage as well.
The power of the social innovation network is of great benefit to RRU. Connecting with other institutions that do social innovation will be advantageous to students and faculty as well, Gundy explained.
“I think we are seeing only the beginning of the impact this university is going to have on its community, particularly the West Shore,” he added.
Programs for change at RRU include the doctor of social sciences program, which offers training that nurtures students as skilled researchers and enables them to conduct applied research. That allows them to communicate in the most appropriate ways to a variety of audiences, and to produce networks of scholar practitioners who continue collaborative work as public intellectuals and changemakers.
The master of arts in leadership program focuses on resolving problems in the real world grounded in a rigorous theoretical understanding of the nature of today’s organizations and changing role of leadership within them.
The bachelor of business administration in business and sustainability creates expediences for students that enable them to understand their environment, and make positive changes in their communities and beyond.
The graduate certificate in sustainable community development, delivered in partnership with the City of Victoria, provides practical tools with understanding of sustainable growth and community-based development.