Ashoka Changemaker Team Visits Marlboro College

Posted on March 20, 2018

In February, Marlboro College hosted an Ashoka Changemaker Team for a three-day visit of our campus. The team was made up of Sarah-Marie Hopf (Director of Ashoka U Campus Partnerships) and Luzette Jaimes (Director of Learning and Development at Ashoka), both based in Washington, D.C., and Jay Friedlander (Professor of Sustainable Business from College of the Atlantic).


Exploring Marlboro Exploring Marlboro Marlboro OP Discussion Tour Ashoka Selfie Circle 


Marlboro is entering the final stage of becoming designated as an official Ashoka Changemaker Campus. Ashoka defines a Changemaker Campus as a community of leaders and institutions who work collectively to make social innovation and changemaking the new norm in higher education and beyond. By being recognized as a Changemaker campus, the college will be recognized for the incredible work we are doing in the areas of self-governance, social innovation and our own unique brand of changemaking.


What is Ashoka and what does it do?

Ashoka is a nonprofit organization that builds and cultivates a community of change leaders who see that the world now requires everyone to be a changemaker. Ashoka collaborates with individuals around the world to help transform institutions and cultures worldwide to make change in the society. Ashoka does this through its programs such as Ashoka U, Ashoka Fellows, Ashoka Changemaker campuses, youth ventures among many others.


Marlboro has a deep history of incorporating changemaking and social innovation in its curriculum. The visiting Ashoka  Team spent three days meeting staff and students at Marlboro College, attending Town Meeting, learning how changemaking and social innovation shows up on our campus and ultimately meeting over half of our students, faculty and staff at the graduate and undergraduate level. Here are some highlights from the visit.


Collective Decision Making

Through Town Meeting students, faculty and staff at Marlboro demonstrated how they come together to  vote on decisions that affect our community. During the visit, students expressed their appreciation of the school’s approach to involving them in making decisions that affected them. It is with this kind of approach that students see themselves as stakeholders whose opinion count on how the school should run. This also showed up at the graduate level during the residency circle where all students, faculty and staff have a chance to connect and support one another.



In the 21st Century, diversity has become a major topic for discussion. The college has committed itself to diversity and that showed up in several ways during the visit. The Ashoka team met students who were part of the Living in Color group on campus. One of the students shared, “I am impressed by the college’s commitment to increasing support and resources for students of color on campus.” The population of students of color at Marlboro has been increasing every year and more is being planned to support diversity and inclusion on campus.


Marlboro’s curriculum is flexible for students to decide on what they want to study. Students we spoke said that one big reason they applied to the college was because of its flexible curriculum. This allows them to follow their passion and make choices to support their future careers and lives. At the graduate level this shows up in the Capstone process in particular, but increasingly in field-based and project-based work within the coursework as well.


During the visit, the Ashoka team saw this firsthand when one of the students performed for the visitors. She was preparing to present a dance about racial justice at a regional conference where she hoped that through her play she was going to raise awareness about the issue.


Co-Curricular Activities

Lastly during the visit the Ashoka Team had a chance to take part in outdoor activities that our students enjoy year-round. Right now that includes snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice skating. That very weekend two students were competing with athletes from over 20 countries at the Harris Ski Jump just 15 minutes away from campus. The team also heard about the trip to Yellowstone coming up in just two weeks.


Overall the visit was a wonderful success and highlighted the things that make Marlboro such an amazing community. We look forward to sharing more soon as several of our faculty and staff attend the annual Ashoka U Exchange conference in Boston next month.


To stay up to date and learn more, please visit



  • Nonprofit Management
  • Curriculum Design
  • Facilitation
  • Graduate and Professional Studies
  • Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Undergraduate
  • Vermont

Travis Hellstrom, Chair, MBA and MSM Programs