Network of 'students for students'

Student Changemakers Network provides place to generate advancement


Photo of a meeting taking place at the Trico Changemakers Studio.

The Trico Changemakers Studio is a co-working, collaboration and learning space at Mount Royal University.


Mount Royal University’s Trico Changemakers Studio has supported the development of the Student Changemakers Network (SCN) over the course of the past academic year. Founded by Wayne and Eleanor Chu, the studio is a joint initiative between the Institute for Community Prosperity, the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Bissett School of Business. Generously funded by Trico Homes and the Trico Charitable Foundation, the Changemakers Studio is a co-working, collaboration and learning space at the intersection of campus and community.

The SCN is a registered Student Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU) club. Operating out of the Trico Changemakers Studio, located on the third floor of the Bissett School of Business, the SCN gives students the chance to tackle issues that are important to them through changemaking projects as well as hostingcommunity conversations and skill-developing workshops with studio members and MRU faculty. The goal is to create changemakers and help students build meaningful networks.

Studio director Lena Soots, hired Public Relations student Mikayla Kardynal and Social Work student Coleson Proudfoot as interns to spearhead the creation of the SCN with the goal of putting together “a network of students for students.”

Kardynal and Proudfoot wanted to spark conversation with students across campus about the changes they want to see at MRU.

Kardynal says, “Many students said they didn’t know how much their voice matters or how to advocate for their needs.” "We took all that feedback and developed the SCN where we wanted to have a multi-disciplinary, welcoming and inclusive community to give students a meaningful experience beyond their academics.”

The SCN is about students deciding for themselves what they care about and receiving support from the Trico Changemakers Studio to make impactful changes on campus and in the community.

“The Studio is home to different community members, organizations and businesses that are all involved with changemaking in our community,” Soots says. “Everyone that’s in there has a social purpose built into what they do.  We provide the opportunity for students to connect with those amazing organizations to inspire their changemaking journey.”

Kardynal and Proudfoot created an annual report on the progress that the SCN has made since they came aboard, highlighting what the SCN is, its purpose, who its members are and why they belong.

Soots was “blown away” by the report and all the work that the students had put in with the SCN.

“I had nothing to do with what the students talked about or created and I was just so touched by how amazing and passionate our students are,” she says. “What I really saw come alive in the report is that students are starting to identify with the term changemaker at MRU.”

To Soots, the SCN’s “Who We Are” description gives her belief that we are in good hands and that these amazing young people “can come together around shared values, purpose and vision to make a difference.”

 

"We are a network for students by students. We are aware, concerned and passionate about current environmental and social issues. We care about the future of our world and our ability to create change in it. We are an inclusive community with students from all disciplines, backgrounds and walks of life. We aim to activate the individual as a changemaker."

SCN Who We Are

 

MRU is one of just 44 campuses across the world to be designated as a changemaker campus by Ashoka U. Changemaker campuses operate in socially and environmentally conscious ways to solve local and global challenges. MRU was chosen in recognition of its leadership in social innovation and commitment to Indigenous education.

MRU’s campus-wide changemaking initiatives touch on all parts of campus life, curriculum and student opportunities. The Trico Changemakers Studio gives changemaking a home on campus where the community can be curious and interact with the idea of changemaking. The Studio has faculty, courses and students connected to its work, but the SCN was created so that its student members can become deeply connected with changemaking to take and share their experiences onto the broader campus.

When asked what changemaking means to her, Kardynal says, “For me, you have to break the word into two, change and maker. A lot of people can have the passion and vision to enact change no matter the cause. Then the maker piece reminds me of systems thinking where you have to dissect and understand all the parts, relationships and outcomes with a system.

“Then to put it all together, it’s about understanding the system, but having the tools, strategies and mindset to create the change you want to see.”

In the SCN annual report, there is a section dedicated to the future, where members will look to engage more faculty and community members in hosting skill-development workshops for students, offer students a certification for completing these workshops, create a tangible changemaking project in collaboration with SAMRU and expand their network to gain more members of the MRU community.

Students interested in joining the SCN must become a member of the Trico Studio.

Aug. 19, 2020 ― Zach Worden

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