Global-Local Inequalities: Social Change for Sustainable Communities

Photo of homes built over the side of a canal with highrises in the background

Photo credit: Abir Abdullah for ADB 2012

Change makers from around the world discuss strategies for reducing inequalities.

What can we do, as individuals and organizations, to address the growing inequalities at the global and local level? At the core of inequalities lies unequal access to resources.  Institutions, policies, and distribution of power - at the country and global level - shape opportunities of access to resources at a given point in time. Yet navigating these constraints, we can take action to bring about positive change that contributes to more sustainable livelihoods and resilient communities.

In the 2018 Global Challenges Conference, we explore innovative ideas, projects, and organizations that increase access at the community level. We concentrate on three interrelated areas:

(1) Built environments (availability and affordability of housing, electricity, transportation, etc)

(2) Food security and environmental justice (access to affordable and nutritional food, water, land rights), and

(3) Education and income-generating activities for women (access to education, training, funding).  Through panels, interactive workshops, and networking and mentoring opportunities students will explore possibilities and acquire skills for impactful change in these three areas.

The goal of the conference is for students to understand the possibilities for change at the community level in the context of social and economic structures and constraints.

Note: All speakers listed are confirmed; others will be added when confirmed.

 Friday, February 16, 2018

7 pm: Keynote Address: Diana Wells, President, Ashoka

 Saturday, February 17, 2018

9 – 10:30 am: Three concurrent panels:

Each panel will have representatives from 3-4 organizations, from the Global North and the Global South

The panelists lay out the goals for and impact of their organizations. They discuss the contexts in which they are operating (the constraints within which they are working: which factors are given constraints, which factors could they modify, which public policy were most helpful, which ones were missing); they explore the challenges and constraints they had to navigate and the key lessons they learned; they identify the most important collaborators and allies and the factors that took them the furthest in achieving their goals.

  1. Built environments

  • Evgenia Sokolova, ’01 Embark Energy
  • Lynn Benander, CEO and President of Coop Power
  • Marcos Marrero, Director of Planning and Economic Development, Holyoke
  • Jyot Chadha, '02, Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, World Resources Institute India
  1. Food security and environmental justice

  1. Education and Income-generating activities for women


The offerings below are only available to students in Coll 115 and registered alumnae.

11 am – 12:30 pm: Mentoring workshops by track area  

12:45 pm – 2:00 pm lunch: Networking of students, alumnae, and panelists

2:15 pm – 3:45 pm: Skills workshops for changemakers

  1. Getting funded: Communicating (or pitching) your innovative ideas to investors?

  1. For-profit, non-profit & B-Corp: The many legal structures of social impact enterprise 

  1. Social Impact assessment  

  1. ABCs of translating ideas into action

  1. Understanding and navigating organizational power structures to bring about positive change

  1. Using social media for change

  2. Addressing gender stereotyping/discrimination in organizations

Conference-Linked Course

Photo of the group of teachers taking part in the Coll-115 course on Global-local inequalities

Global-Local Inequalities (Coll-115)

Analyze how institutions, policies, and distribution of power - at the country and global level - shape access to resources at a given point in time.