Current Issue

Vol. 16 No. 1 (2023): Identifying and Addressing Cultural, Geopolitical, Structural, and Educational Barriers to Social Innovation
					View Vol. 16 No. 1 (2023): Identifying and Addressing Cultural, Geopolitical, Structural, and Educational Barriers to Social Innovation

Dear Reader,

Much of current social innovation and changemaking practice occurs within and reflects asymmetries of power, privilege, and knowledge paradigms along cultural, social, and geopolitical lines. This issue explores cultural and geopolitical trends underpinning social innovation, implications for practice, and how changemaking paradigms can make space for knowledge systems within histories of colonization, imperial dominance, oppression, protracted conflict, and the environmental crisis. As the authors in this edition note, for social innovation and changemaking efforts to be successful, we must consider these various knowledge systems and address asymmetrical power structures.

While identifying these barriers, we must also create solutions and methods to overcome these barriers. The articles within this issue highlight research and practices around the world that are working to identify and overcome many of the barriers to social innovation found in asymmetrical power dynamics.

Education, as a key pillar of society, may provide solutions or exacerbate issues depending on how social innovation or changemaking is integrated (or not) into curriculum, leadership, institutional structures, and research agendas. The majority of the articles in this issue address this in some way. All of the articles in this issue were developed in response to Ashoka U’s Third Annual Changemaker Education Research Forum (CERF) held in September 2022. The Forum brought together practitioners and scholars from around the world interested in different aspects of social innovation and changemaking. The Forum was designed to broaden the knowledge base of social innovation and changemaking. In a world where the only constant is change, the Forum and now this special issue of the Social Innovations Journal (SIJ) have focused on creating the conditions for deeper collaboration and knowledge-sharing amongst the changemaker network and beyond, tapping into insights from scholars, practitioners, higher education staff, and students with different perspectives.

CERF 2022 focused on two themes: Cultural, Geopolitical, and Structural Barriers to Social Innovation and the Impact of Changemaker (Social Innovation) Education. A summary of each theme is presented within this special issue of SIJ. Integrated across both themes were issues pertaining to the intersection of education and asymmetrical power structures. This special issue is organized around these four interconnected areas of inquiry:

· International Development

· Local vs. Global

· Responsible Knowledge Creation and Management

· Changemaking in, through, and for Higher Education.

Part one of this edition focuses on international development by looking at specific social issues in Nigeria and Colombia. Part two explores the tensions between 'local' and 'global' approaches and the implications for funding. Part three lays out the various responsibilities of education stakeholders and the importance of careful stewardship of knowledge. Part four is focused on how people have been taking action in, through, and for education to address barriers and find innovative solutions to complex social problems. The research, projects, programs, and case studies shared here highlight issues around asymmetrical power structures and implications for education and provide possible solutions to some of these barriers.

These conversations do not exist in a bubble and are important parts of larger, intersecting global conversations and discourses. We welcome readers into these conversations and hope that the articles in this issue provide insight, share knowledge, and enhance conditions for deeper collaboration among changemakers in all sectors.



Heather MacCleoud, Ph.D., Chief Network Officer, Ashoka U, Ashoka

Nicholas Torres, Co-Founder

Please note with thanks that Ashoka U curated this edition of the Social Innovations Journal

Published: 2023-01-25
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We accept article submissions in Education, Human Services, Social Mobility, and Health.  We encourage article submissions to include components of Social Enterprise, System Change, Policy, and  Collaborations. 

Article Guidelines

  • Please include a title for your article exactly as you would like them to appear once published.
  • Please include the author(s) and affiliations immediately following the title
  • Please include keywords (metadata) for searching purposes.
  • Please include an abstract of your article and submit it along with your article.
  • Font should be 12-point for the body of article and Times Roman style.
  • Please remember to cite all sources for your article. We do NOT publish footnotes.  We publish endnotes. 
  • For all graphics as well as charts, tables, and figures please embed them within the article exactly how you want them to appear. Please submit only high-resolution images for publishing.  For all photos and images include a suggested caption and photo credit information (if required).
  • We recommend articles being 1,000 – 1,500 words.  Research articles are recommended to be between 4,000 – 6,000 words.
  • Please define acronyms the first time they appear.  Define trade or sector-specific terminology to ensure that your article is reader friendly.  Keep in mind that you are writing to a broad audience that includes international readers.


  • Frame the issue and define the social problem and context clearly. What local context or circumstances gave rise to this particular problem?
  • Offer the innovative solution and explain how your idea/model works.  Include narrative regarding how you will know you have achieved success (outcome and/or impact measures).
  • Differentiate your idea/model from current models. How is the solution distinct from current models?
  • Provide insight into how the model is financed.
  • Discuss scaling, scaling impact, and social and policy implications.

Tone and audience

  • Bottom line writing: Begin with a concise executive summary (about 10% of total word count) that gives the gist of the article. Follow this with a narrative that is guided by the outline above.
  • Academic framework: Place the social innovation within the context of best practice research. However, minimize use of citations and footnotes.
  • Audience: Write for social investors, government, not-for-profits, academia and the private sector who have a vested interest in increasing their regional impact through high-impact social innovation. 


  • Submit the article text as a Word file. Make sure figures/tables are fully editable (NOT LINKED).
  • Provide references. References should be included at the end of the article.  Please do not use FOOTNOTES or ENDNOTES.
  • SIJ uses The Chicago Manual of Style (