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