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Ryerson named first Changemaker campus in Canada

Changemaker U

Ryerson joins 24 institutions with Ashoka Changemaker status for its long-standing commitment to social change and entrepreneurship.

Ryerson University is the first Canadian educational institution to be named a Changemaker campus by Ashoka, a global leader in social innovation.  

Founded by entrepreneur Bill Drayton, Ashoka is globally recognized for its efforts in driving social change through its prestigious Ashoka Fellows program – honouring leaders such as Kiva co-founder Matt Flannery, Wikipedia inventor Jimmy Wales and Free The Children co-founder Marc Kielburger – through its drive to advance social entrepreneurship education and training.

Ryerson, known as Canada’s comprehensive innovation university, has a long-standing tradition of community engagement. Its unique mission is to serve societal needs.

Ryerson joins a select group of universities after completing a rigorous selection process involving months of assessments, interviews, site visits and strategy sessions. The final evaluation by a team of international judges took place near Washington, D.C in August. The designation reflects Ryerson’s success in mainstreaming entrepreneurship across its programs – whether in engineering, business, fashion or social work - Ryerson students and faculty are committed to effecting change and driving innovation and have the skills to lead.

Among the 24 institutions with the designation are Duke University, Brown University, Boston College, Brigham Young University, Cornell University, Marquette University, Arizona State University, University of Maryland and Dublin City University.

“Ryerson is delighted to be selected by Ashoka as the first university in Canada to join this worldwide initiative,” said Ryerson University President Sheldon Levy. “Innovation is in our DNA and this prestigious designation recognizes the contributions of our students, alumni, faculty and staff who bring social innovation and entrepreneurship to life every day through their work, study and research. We look forward to working with our partners in the Changemaker network and finding ways to drive innovation in our community and beyond and to leading change across institutions.”

Already an important hub in Canada’s innovation ecosystem, Ryerson is transforming education in Canada through its commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation. Building on the runaway success of its Digital Media Zone (DMZ), its unique approach to “zone learning” provides mentorship, space and encouragement for student innovation and cross-disciplinary collaboration. Innovators and students from leading institutions in China, Israel and India are coming to the DMZ at Ryerson. The university recently established the new Bombay Stock Exchange Institute-Ryerson Digital Media Zone, to be housed at the Mumbai Stock Exchange.  

“Innovation and entrepreneurship, whether for profit or social good, require similar attitudes, knowledge and processes,” says Ryerson Vice-President, Research and Innovation Wendy Cukier. “Above all they require learning by doing. You cannot learn surfing from a textbook and Ryerson prides itself on applying research to solve real-world problems, providing experiential learning for students and helping them start their own businesses and social ventures. The Changemaker steering committee and process helped surface dozens of social innovation projects and strengthen connections across faculties. Diversity is the foundation of innovation and you can achieve great things when you bring business students with social work students and communications students together with engineers and scientists to solve real problems.”