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Changemakers: Inspiring action for a better world

They are everywhere at Portland State. In the arts and in the sciences. In the business school and the engineering department. In the administrative offices, student groups, and corner cafes. They are changemakers—people who fearlessly dream up new ways of doing things and develop novel solutions to our most looming social and environmental problems—regardless of how enormous or minute.

That’s why in September 2012 PSU was designated an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus—a select group of colleges and universities that demonstrate a commitment to galvanizing solutions to global challenges. The Ashoka U program is run by Ashoka, a worldwide network of entrepreneurs working to solve problems and enable positive change. There are currently 24 universities in the Changemaker Campus network. 

Since receiving the designation, a collaboration of leaders from across campus—students, professors, and administrators—have worked to advance the power and potential of this new global network of changemaking universities, and to promote the changemaker identity and ideal to all members of the PSU community. 

As a first step, the group decided we needed a unified, cross-campus space where all participating organizations and departments could be represented. A place where we could explain what this changemaker designation means for the PSU community, share stories about some of our amazing changemakers, and provide resources for students to find their own path to changemaking.

I’m happy to report that this week we launched a website that does just that. Give it a peek, share it with your friends, and watch our short changemaker videos profiles—we think you’ll really enjoy them.


Psychology student Brian Forrester recognized that he was not alone in his struggle to pass his math class, so he created an online tool to help students organize study groups and succeed with the support of their peers. What began as a basic directory of classmates is now a fully developed social media platform to help students from any corner of the globe find study buddies, organize study groups, and succeed in school. It's called Buddy Up.


A senior instructor of Indigenous Nations Studies at Portland State University, Judy BlueHorse Skelton works closely with local organizations and leaders to involve her students in collaborative community projects like the Cully Park Tribal Gathering Garden—providing them with real-world learning experiences that can be life changing.



Social entrepreneur Ahmed Abidine grew up in Morocco, where he learned the art of designing handcrafted leather goods from his grandfather at a young age. Now a graduate student at Portland State University, Ahmed founded elkarti Morocco, an ethical fashion line of unique handcrafted leather accessories that invests in education and business training to empower its Moroccan artisans.



Portland State University art and social practice professor Harrell Fletcher challenges his students to create community-engaged art. Through a partnership with an inner-city public school, Fletcher and his students work with kids to create collaborative art projects that have the power to improve test scores, increase graduation rates, and narrow the achievement gap among disadvantaged children.