Update a Colleague is a series of posts where faculty members share the resources and information they gained from attending CTL-sponsored events. Look for more upcoming posts from other faculty members to read about their experiences at events and conferences, and stay tuned for future conference applications!
Below the summary from your colleague, please find the resources gained from their attendance at the event.
Ashoka U Exchange March 16 2021
The 2021 Ashoka U Exchange, held virtually, fostered a uniquely reflective and forward-looking global discourse on the topic of change-making educational eco-systems. Change-making, while seemingly radical at face value, is defined more simply as creative-problem solving. It calls for empowering student ownership over the learning process through co-creation, adaptive engagement, and place-based community learning. While the notion of change-making is problematic in its assumption that all communities seek change, and that all problems identified by designers are co-conceived as such by community stakeholders, the exchange provided a useful lens to move away from technical problem solving and towards a more adaptive challenge mindset. Such a mindset allows students and practitioners to dive deeper, to engage with communities more fully, and to seek out invisible proactive solutions over the visible reactive ones.
Presenters, being mindful to not perpetuate power dynamics which place practice-based expertise over lived experience expertise, addressed power head on. Several speakers addressed their own attempts to shift the balance of power within the academy, suggesting that all strategies and processes for social change must first be tested in the classroom, empowering students to explore techniques such as active listening, appreciative inquiry, design thinking, and asset mapping on themselves, first. One speaker illustrated a co-learning environment which enabled students to gain agency over their own learning processes by encouraging them to comment on course syllabi before their completion, to respond to course surveys throughout the term, and to vote on changes to course format and content throughout the semester. Others addressed the notion of sharing power with community partners, engaging them in a process which fostered co-creation, co-design, co-implementation, and co-evaluation. While participatory exercises such as these resonated with me as a community design practitioner and academic, I never concretely identified these techniques as part of formal change-maker curriculum. As such, it was impactful to engage in and learn from formalized approaches to teaching participation and empowering co-creation as hallmarks of responsible pedagogy and equitable practice.