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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

2018 Global Challenges Conference

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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.

Conference Schedule

Friday, February 16

7:30 pm: Keynote Address, Gamble Auditorium, Art Building

Towards a New Equality: Building Changemaker Talent Globally

Dr. Diana Wells, President, Ashoka

Photo of Dr. Diana Wells

Dr. Diana Wells has been president of Ashoka, a global organization dedicated to supporting and advancing social entrepreneurship in more than 80 countries, since 2007.

Diana began her work at Ashoka after graduating from Brown University (1988) and created one of the organization’s core programs: a network through which social entrepreneurs can share ideas and learn from one another. She took a leave from Ashoka to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology at New York University (2000). Her ethnographic research focused on understanding how social change happens as a local articulation of a global social movement and resulted in her dissertation: Between the Difference: The Emergence of a Cross Ethnic Women’s Movement in Trinidad and Tobago. She returned to her work at Ashoka to lead the organization’s geographic expansion as a global social movement and developed a widely-used and respected tool to measure the impact of social entrepreneurship.

Diana has been named both a Fulbright and a Woodrow Wilson scholar, is a trustee of Brown University, is on the Advisory Board for the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.  She previously served on the Board of GuideStar International. She has taught anthropology at Georgetown University and has authored and edited numerous journal and book publications including two compilations on social movements in the United States.

Diana has received a number of national awards for her work. In 2012, the Brown Alumni Association presented her with the William Rogers Award, its highest honor, George Mason University awarded her their inaugural Social Innovation Champion in 2011, and in 2007 Diana was celebrated as one of 10 winners of the first annual Women to Watch award, by Running Start, a Washington, DC based organization that empowers young women to be political leaders.

Keynote Speaker Videos

Saturday, February 17

The events below are reserved for alumnae registered for the conference and students in Coll 115.

9 – 10:30 am: Change-making on the Ground - Challenges and Impact

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.

Panel 1: Built Environments

Photo of Evgenia Sokolova

Evgenia Sokolova ’01

Founder of Aktivera, Ltd
Photo of Lynn Benander, CEO and President of Coop Power

Lynn Benander

CEO and President of Coop Power
Photo of Marcos Marrero, Director of Planning and Economic Development, Holyoke

Marcos Marrero

Director of Planning and Economic Development, Holyoke
Photo of Jyot Chadha ’02

Jyot Chadha ’02

Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, World Resources Institute India

Panel 2: Food Security and Environmental Justice

Photo of Vijaya Pastala ’89

Vijaya Pastala ’89

Founder and CEO of Under the Mango Tree
Photo of Amy Barthorpe

Amy Barthorpe

Head of Business, WeFarm
Photo of Elizabeth O'Gilvie

Elizabeth Wills O'Gilvie

Chair of the Board, Gardening the Community
Photo of Daniel Ross

Daniel Ross

Visiting Assistant Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at Hampshire College and CEO and principal of DAISA Enterprises LLC

Panel 3: Education and Income-generating Activities for Women

Photo of Woyneab Habte ’18

Woyneab Habte ’17

Founder and director of On-Her-Own
Photo of Catherine Gobron

Catherine Gobron

Co-founder and co-director for LightHouse Holyoke
Photo of Tess Poe

Tess Poe ’97

Founder and CEO, Beehive Sewing Studio and Workspace
Photo of Maimuna Ahmad '09

Maimuna Ahmad ’09

Founder and CEO of Teach for Bangladesh

11 am – 12:30 pm: Pitch Idea Exchange and Career Coaching Clinic

12:45 pm – 2:15 pm: Lunch. Networking of Students, Alumnae, and Panelists

2:15 pm – 3:45 pm: Skills Workshops for Changemakers

Photo of Kait Szydlowsky ’09, Vice President of Philanthropy & Strategy at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Technology division

Kait Szydlowski ’09

Getting funded: Communicating (or pitching) your innovative ideas to investors?
Photo of Ann Blake ’85

Ann Blake ’85

For profit, non-profit & B-Corp: The many legal structures of social impact enterprise
Photo of Daniel Ross

Daniel Ross

Social Impact assessment
Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod ’84

ABCs of translating ideas into action
Nausheen Khan

Nausheen Khan ’11

Understanding and navigating organizational power structures to bring about positive change.
Photo of Shannon Giordanao

Shannon Giordano ’91

Using social media for change
Photo of Marcia Kropf ’67

Marcia Brumit Kropf ’67

Addressing gender stereotyping/discrimination in organizations
Photo of Vijaya Pastala ’89

Vijaya Pastala ’89

Using story telling for social change
Photo of Evgenia Sokolova

Evgenia Sokolova ’01

Business-driven approaches to social ventures

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.