Middlebury

Social Entrepreneurship Symposium to Celebrate Innovations in Education

January 7, 2014

Social entrepreneurs are transforming and improving education while colleges and universities are fostering social entrepreneurship. What impact is this trend having on the economy and the challenges we face as a society? And what does it mean for today’s students now and when they graduate?

Two leaders in the field of social innovation—New York Times “Fixes” columnist David Bornstein and educator Shabana Basij-Rasikh ’11—will discuss these topics at a symposium, “Social Entrepreneurship and the Future of Education,” on January 23-24 at Middlebury College. The event is organized by the College’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship (CSE).

“Social entrepreneurs are looking for a high rate of return,” said Jon Isham, faculty director of the CSE. “They have found that investing in education, such as the education of girls in developing countries, can significantly increase the overall wellbeing of a society.” 

shabana_basij-rasikh
Shabana Basij-Rasikh '11

Basij-Rasikh will kick off the symposium with a talk titled "Dare to Educate Afghan Women" on Thursday, January 23, at 7 p.m. in Mead Chapel. She was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. Under the Taliban, she dressed as a boy and attended a secret school despite the deadly consequences if she were caught. She finished high school in the U.S. through the State Department’s Youth Exchange Studies program. As a student at Middlebury College, Basij-Rasikh founded HELA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Afghan women through education. She also raised funds through foundations and public talks across the U.S. to build a high school for girls in her ancestral village, and to construct wells on the outskirts of Kabul. In 2010 she was named one of Glamour Magazine’s Top 10 College Women.

Basij-Rasikh is president and co-founder of SOLA (School of Leadership Afghanistan), a girls’ boarding school, whose mission is to help exceptional young Afghan women access further education worldwide and then return home to find jobs developing solutions to the challenges that face their country.

Bornstein will give the symposium’s keynote address, "Solutions Journalism in Education: Scholarship in Real Time," at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 24, in McCullough Student Center. He is a journalist and author who focuses on social innovation. As the co-author of the “Fixes” column in The New York Times Opinionator section, he explores and analyzes potential solutions to major social problems. Bornstein is also the co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, which supports journalists who report on constructive responses to difficult social issues. His books include How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank, and Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know. He is currently completing a book on social innovation in the U.S. and Canada.

Following their talks, each speaker will receive a CSE Vision Award, which honors leaders who share the center’s goal of preparing individuals to lead a life of social change.

During the week of the symposium, there will be additional activities leading up to the two talks, including workshops and Google Hangouts with leaders in social entrepreneurship and education from such organizations as Ashoka, Clinton Global Initiative, and Educate!. Angelica Towne ’08, an Educate! co-founder who will lead one of the symposium workshops, was recently named to Forbes' 2014 list of "30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs."

All of the events are free and open to the public. A full symposium schedule is available at http://mcse.middlebury.edu/programs/symposium/. For more information, contact Heather Neuwirth at hneuwirth@middlebury.edu or 802-443-5961.