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Embedding social innovation and social impact across the disciplines: Identifying “Changemaker” attributes

Bethany Alden Rivers (The Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, The University of Northampton, Northampton, UK)
Alejandro Armellini (The Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, The University of Northampton, Northampton, UK)
Ming Nie (The Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, The University of Northampton, Northampton, UK)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 10 August 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose an attributes framework for embedding “Changemaker” – a university initiative for promoting social innovation and social impact – across the disciplines at the University of Northampton.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is based on the authors’ (2015) phenomenographic study that proposed five different conceptions of Changemaker held by academic staff: (1) Changemaker as institutional strategy; (2) Changemaker as critical thinking, perspective shifting and problem solving; (3) Changemaker as employability; (4) Changemaker as social betterment; and (5) Changemaker as personal transformation. The present study explores pedagogic literature to identify skills, behaviours and attributes associated with each of these five categories.

Findings

Findings from this literature review inform a set of Changemaker attributes, which offers a framework to consider skills and behaviours associated with the five conceptions of Changemaker.

Research limitations/implications

The conceptions of Changemaker, that form the basis of the Changemaker attributes, represent the beliefs of teaching staff at the University of Northampton. Despite inherent limitations, the approach of using practice-based empirical findings to develop pedagogical tools may be of direct benefit to other education providers as they develop their own models for teaching and learning.

Practical implications

The Changemaker attributes will be used by the University of Northampton during the design, approval and review of courses to ensure that social innovation and social impact is embedded across the disciplines. Academic staff can refer these attributes when designing assessments and for inspiration towards innovative teaching practice.

Originality/value

The findings of this study will provide a point of reference for other higher education institutions as they look for guidance on embedding social innovation and social impact into their curriculum.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to Professor Simon Denny, Dr Sue Allen, Jane Bunce, Wray Irwin, Tim Curtis, Dr Rachel Maxwell and the Changemaker Core Group for their peer review.

Citation

Alden Rivers, B., Armellini, A. and Nie, M. (2015), "Embedding social innovation and social impact across the disciplines: Identifying “Changemaker” attributes", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 242-257. https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-10-2014-0051

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited