Editorial Team

Australia’s only Changemaker University has mapped its next steps for delivering social innovation education, with an Australian-first strategy to inspire the next generation of social change leaders.

CQUniversity’s plan to grow its social impact education will see every graduate equipped to make a difference in their careers, whether they’re engineers or plumbers, project managers or prep teachers.

The new Social Innovation Education Strategy (2021-2023) identifies focus areas for empowering students, staff and communities for changemaking, and was recently endorsed by CQUni’s Academic Board.

It builds on more than five years of work to embed social innovation across CQUniversity operations. Social impact education leader Ashoka U recognised that work in 2017, naming CQUniversity as a Changemaker University, one of just 51 institutions globally.

The commitment delivers real-world social impact opportunities for CQUniversity’s 30,000 students, the majority based in regional Australia.

CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nick Klomp said the new strategy was a commitment to every student, that they could change lives.

“At CQUniversity, social innovation education means we’re fostering curious, creative and collaborative systems thinking in our students, and empowering every student to be a changemaker in their community,” he said.

Since 2017, CQUniversity has embedded social innovation theory and practice across its curriculum, with more than 80 per cent of all undergraduate courses now developing social innovation skills.

The strategy targets 100 per cent of undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational students able to access social innovation opportunities by 2023, alongside growth in programs specific to social innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Social innovation is a key part of CQUniversity’s long-held vision to be Australia’s most accessible, supportive and engaged university, and is one of the many ways we change lives,” Professor Klomp said.

Strategy author and CQUniversity Associate Director Academic for Social Innovation, Dr Tobias Andreasson said social innovation education enabled students to see their personal role in helping achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), and create a better global future.

“Increasingly students are learning about the UNSDGs, and social innovation education actually develops the skills and attributes to become creative change agents,” Dr Andreasson explained

“The new strategy aims to support our educators to explore new ways to embed social innovation into their curriculum, and build on the amazing achievements already made.”

“In practice, it means students are working creatively and collaboratively with their peers on complex social and environmental challenges, to come up with new ideas or solutions that can solve issues in their communities.”

Dr Andreasson highlighted CQUniversity’s Lawtoks pilot project, which brings together Laws and Theatre students, to work with community partners and develop short scenario videos to empower Indigenous young people in their interactions with police.

“This strategy shows CQUniversity’s commitment to ensure our graduates are not just employable, but also capable to positively shape our collective future,” Dr Andreasson said.

Since 2017, CQUniversity has developed a range of social innovation programs, including:

  • Australia’s first whole-of-institution social innovation orientation program, iChange is freely available to all CQUniversity students and staff,
  • iActivate, Australia’s first micro-credentialled online social enterprise course to be developed in partnership with sector leader Impact Boom,
  • Social Innovation Workshops, held across regional Queensland, have supported diverse student cohorts to design solutions for community partners, across homelessness, community development and social enterprise sectors,
  • Partnering with Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council partnership, to establish an education, enterprise and research hub in the Indigenous community,
  • Whanu Binal Indigenous Entrepreneur Program, in collaboration with Arrow Energy, to support Indigenous business owners in the field of business and entrepreneurship.

In the past four years as Australia’s only Changemaker University, CQUniversity has ignited and accelerated thousands of changemaker journeys.

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