Sunday, October 05, 2014

Festival of Social Change in Canberra

Changemakers National Festival of Social Change is being held 17 to 26 October. As part of the festival Canberra is hosting YWCA'  Women leading change and the Deloitte Canberra Social Innovation Pitch. Meetings are being held 8am to 10am each Friday morning up to the festival about organising events this year and next year.
"... a nationwide celebration of the great work happening in our community, an exploration of the ideas, techniques and technologies that are driving this change, and an invitation for everyone to get involved in creating a better future for our communities and our world."
This is an initiative of  the Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI): 
"... created to help find better solutions to complex social problems like child abuse and neglect, Indigenous disadvantage and the challenges of ageing and caring."
The meeting last Friday was attended by about a dozen people. I was not sure what this was all about but went along to Tilley's Devine Café Gallery find out. There were about a dozen people, half who worked, or had worked, in the public service. Some like me just turned up to find out what it was about, one normally had breakfast in the cafe at that time on a Friday anyway (a very pleasant prospect: I spent a six months regularly sitting in Tilley's corner booth writing a book).
One topic which came up was innovations which can help the communality, not just private business. Recently I spent a week in Vancouver looking at education and innovation and am tutoring a team of students producing a new product for Innovation ACT.

Innovation ACT ends with an awards night 25 October, within the Changemakers Festival period. The competition allows for non-profit community initiatives, as well as for-profit private business ideas.

One frustration with innovation competitions has been that students don't get any academic credit for participating. While in Vancouver for the 2014 IEEE International Conference on Computer Science and Education (ICCSE 2014), I dropped in on Philippe Kruchten at UBC Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is involved with the "New Venture Design" course (APSC 486), where engineering and business students learn to produce a business plan for a product. This is an intensive program which requires considerable resources from the university to run. I thought something more lightweight would be possible where the student does the theory component on-line through their university and participates in a competition, such as Innovation ACT, for the practical part.

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