Up Front: Changemakers for the Common Good

The world is changing at an unprecedented rate, presenting challenges with which many of our societal structures – schools, governments, companies, even churches – are struggling to keep pace. In his latest book, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, Thomas Friedman explains that today’s technological advances are ushering in an exponential rate of change, and scientific progress is outpacing human capacity for adapting to change.

As we prepare our students to thrive in a rapidly changing world, grasping the pace of acceleration is critically important. The changes we see in the world today represent the slowest pace of change our new graduates will face in their careers. They will enter the workforce in the midst of incredible disruption in many industry sectors. They must have the courage, moral compass and ethical foundation to adapt to as well as lead change.

Since our founding in 1885, St. Thomas has provided a well-rounded liberal arts education integrated with practical application and always has emphasized ethical leadership. In the face of change, it is more important than ever that all of our students – those studying the sciences, arts, business, engineering and education – have a strong liberal arts foundation. The ability to think critically, listen to others, seek truth, empathetically understand another’s experience and solve problems – these are the skills required to develop creative solutions to complex problems now and in the future.

St. Thomas students, faculty, staff and alumni are committed to leading change. Our university’s mission and convictions call upon us to lead change that is inspired by our empathy for others; creates a more equitable, just and sustainable world; and ultimately advances the common good.

In recognition of this commitment and our record of success, this spring St. Thomas earned the Changemaker Campus designation from Ashoka U – a global consortium working to inspire a culture of social innovation and changemaking in higher education. St. Thomas is the first designated university in Minnesota and joins 39 others in the Changemaker Campus consortium, which includes Boston College, Brown University, Duke University, Marquette University, Tecnológico de Monterrey and Singapore Management University.

We earned the designation as a Changemaker Campus by showcasing numerous examples of social innovation. These include: the Dougherty Family College, our new associate’s degree program; the Sustainable Communities Partnership, a program in which students design initiatives that help municipalities advance their sustainability goals; and our entrepreneurship mindset, evident in the first-year innovation challenge and alumni social entrepreneurs such as Zachary Quinn and Brian Keller, founders of Love Your Melon.

We face complex problems in our world, and we are called to solve them. Our new affiliation with the Changemaker Campus network allows us to recommit to being, and reimagine how we can be, changemakers for the common good. The Ashoka Changemaker designation could not be a more fitting honor for the University of St. Thomas, and I could not be more proud of our entire Tommie community!

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