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We wish a very fond farewell to Charmaine Lyn as she steps out of her role as Ashoka Canada’s Director of Changemaker Education. In this brief Q&A, she reflects back on the last four years of impact with the Changemaker Campus network and anticipates what’s ahead for the field.


1. In your view, why is changemaker education so important for Canada’s post-secondary sector?

Canada’s post-secondary sector is at a crossroads, which is scary – and exciting. Years of increasing attention to community engagement and social accountability are coming to a head and institutions that have moved that previously marginal work into the center of their educational mission and institutional operations are better equipped to provide the kind of education that is so acutely needed right now, for learners and society at large. Changemaker Education is a powerful way of activating students’ knowledge (what they are learning), experiences (who they are, what they have lived) with a clear sense of purpose. The purpose is to shape and sustain deep change: to processes, policies, and systems.

2. Looking back on your time as Director of Changemaker Education, how have you seen the field grow and evolve?

I have seen Changemaker Education evolve and mature to become a robust framework that enables the integration of social innovation education into post-secondary institutions. The changemaking framework helps complex organizations like colleges and universities to see and make coherent the wildly different ways in which social impact work is happening on their campuses. This process moves organizations toward greater alignment and clarity, which in turn supports them in demonstrating and communicating how they are moving the needle on priorities such as community engagement, sustainability and reconciliation. I’m also really excited to see the extent to which changemaker education has been understood and championed by senior leaders on the campuses and in the sector.

3. What do you think is on the horizon for this field?

Moving from building and strengthening the field to gaining a better understanding of the kinds of impact that Changemaker Education brings for students and communities. Students should be able to choose their institution based on the diversity and availability of opportunities to develop changemaker competencies and practice them in their programs and in the real world.  Changemaker Education has the potential to exemplify the unique role and relevance of post-secondary education, and to demonstrate the myriad social and economic benefits it brings to our society.