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Our Management and Leadership Program Awarded Ashoka J2CC

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Our Management and Leadership Program Awarded Ashoka J2CC

Several months ago SWPS University has embarked on a journey, a Journey to Changemaker Certificate (J2CC) granted by Ashoka. Today, we have reached the first stage of this process and are happy to announce that our Management and Leadership program has been awarded the J2CC certificate. SWPS University is the first university in Poland and continental Europe to have received this prestigious recognition.

We are extremely proud of this achievement. This interim goal has motivated us to continue our efforts to pursue the full Changemaker Campus certification for SWPS University.

Ashoka: Innovators of the Public

Ashoka is an international organization that promotes social entrepreneurship. Ahoka’s mission is "to shape a global, entrepreneurial, competitive citizen sector: one that allows social entrepreneurs to thrive and enables the world's citizens to think and act as changemakers”. To achieve this, Ashoka identifies and supports the world's leading social entrepreneurs, learns from the patterns in their innovations, and mobilizes a global community that embraces these new frameworks to build an ‘everyone a changemaker world’.

This applies not only to individuals, but to various organizations, including the education sector. To become a changemaker, a higher education institution has to create an education experience that helps its students to acquire and develop certain transversal competencies, such as:

  • Be ready to see your actions as a way to create common good for the society
  • Be able to effectively work in various inclusive networks
  • Become entrepreneurial in all aspects of your life
  • Be ready to constantly learn and develop your empathy through respectful and responsible interactions.

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The 6-step process of the Journey to Changemaker Certificate

From its inception, SWPS University has been promoting the rule of ‘education beyond the classroom’. In the contemporary world, teaching and conducting research projects is not sufficient. Universities must prepare students for the rapidly changing environment. This attitude is in our DNA. Through building a culture focused on change and by inviting students to be a part of this culture, we acknowledge the fact that young people need to become changemakers, in order to thrive in the constantly changing world. As educators, we believe that our duty is to guide young people towards social impact goals in the process of preparing them to become responsible members of the society. We support the idea of ownership, which shows our students that in order to thrive in the challenging environment, they need to take matters in their own hands and be capable of introducing positive changes in their communities and in the world.

Our Vision is to explore and change the world. Therefore, we sought a partner, who could help us to realize our vision. Ashoka encouraged us to embark on a 6-step journey to the certification process, which includes the following steps:

  1. In-depth interviews with senior management, academic staff and students to establish a baseline
  2. Intense and interactive training for academic staff to support them in designing or redesigning teaching program(s)
  3. Audit of documents and feedback on learning outcomes
  4. Preparation of a Self-Development Report (SDR) - a roadmap for the next steps and improvements
  5. Certification visit of academic experts from the worldwide network of Ashoka
  6. Granting of the J2CC certificate and signing of a formal agreement between Ashoka and the University.

The J2CC certificate is the culmination of the whole team’s effort of the past 12-months and signifies our ambitious plans for future development. Thanks to J2CC, we believe that we hold the future in our own hands and we can achieve anything, if we work together.

Marcin Jacoby, Ph.D., Director for International Relations

 

The longest journey begins with the first step

To begin our journey to the Changemaker Certificate, we have selected the Management and Leadership program to undergo the qualification process. The choice was obvious as the current global environment demands managers who are changemakers and it needs leaders who are engaged and responsible.

This is the story of our Journey to the Changemaker Certificate for the Management and Leadership program:

Steps 1 and 2
After the baseline interviews, the leading faculty members of the Management and Leadership program participated in a special training delivered at the University of Northampton, in the UK, which owns the prestigious Changemaker Campus affiliation granted by Ashoka. The training was delivered through the CAleRO process (Creating Aligned Interactive educational Resource Opportunities). It was designed to support teaching staff to design or redesign teaching programs to embed 'changemaking' into the learning outcomes and objectives. The CAleRO training was supplemented by a work-shadowing tour.

Step 3
An audit of documentation was conducted by Ashoka Poland. The goal was to assess whether the environment at SWPS University, at the strategic level, supports the changemaking culture and whether the learning outcomes (the program and courses) reflect the changemaking approach and skills.

Step 4
The fourth stage of the J2CC accreditation process required SWPS University to write a Self-Development Report (SDR). This project was a true team effort, supported personally by the Director of Ashoka Poland, Ms. Agata Stafiej-Bartosik.

In the report, we recognized the need to provide institutional support to various changemakers active in and around our community, and to move towards a more integrated approach to changemaking as an important part of what we believe our University has always been and should be. We have also understood that we should not embark on this path alone, but rather make ample use of the experience and expertise of friends, partners and organizations, which have managed to arrive at an integrated and conscious level of “strategic changemaking, thinking and doing”.

We also understood that in order to achieve this, our J2CC know-how needed to expand further from the level of one program to that of the whole University. This would require the implementation of structural changes, recognition of social engagement as one of the key areas of top management interests apart from teaching, research and institutional growth.

Step 5
The certification visit was the fifth stage of the J2CC accreditation process. The goal of the visit was to discuss the Self-Development Report with auditors from the international Ashoka network, including the co-founder and Head of Ashoka U, Ms. Marina Kim, from the United States, and to receive their feedback.

After careful analysis of the J2CC process and how it can help to improve the Management and Leadership program in the short term and the whole University community in the long term, Professor Roman Cieślak, Rector of SWPS University, acknowledged the plan of action and the goals set forth in the Self-Development Report. The Rector expressed his full support for the initiative and his trust in the transformative effect of J2CC for the whole institution, our students, and staff.

Step 6
Finally, after several months of hard work and commitment we are proud to have been granted the Journey to Changemaker Certificate, awarded to our Management and Leadership program and we are looking forward to the upcoming phases of the project. We hope to join the community built by Ashoka in the United States, the Americas and other continents, where the network is growing dynamically.

We also hope to become the first Changemaker Campus in Poland and in continental Europe, a university that encourages other similar institutions in the region to follow suit. We believe that as a Changemaker Campus, we could actively change higher education in Poland, by showing practical and tangible value of teaching changemaker skills and by proving that these teaching methods and strategies can be successfully integrated in the teaching process.

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