The Buffett Institute’s Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI) study abroad program has won an award from Ashoka U for its innovative educational approach to social entrepreneurship in higher education.

Ashoka U fosters social innovation in higher edPatrick Eccles, associate director of global engagement programs at the Buffett Institute, accepted the Ashoka U-Cordes Innovation Award on behalf of GESI on February 26, 2016. The award was presented during the Ashoka U Exchange in New Orleans to an audience of more than 700 leaders in social innovation in higher education.

“[The Ashoka U-Cordes Innovation Award] casts a broad net and identifies the best and brightest innovations that are really affecting the ability of our students to be change makers,” says Ron Cordes, co-founder of the Cordes Foundation, in a press release.

GESI is a credit-bearing program that combines rigorous academic training and hands-on international fieldwork. Teams of GESI students partner with local grassroots organizations in six countries to help design and implement community-based development projects. One of the program’s core values is a commitment to diversity and inclusion: In 2015, over 70% of GESI students were from underrepresented groups.

GESI's on the ground partners operate all over the world

Over the past six years, the Ashoka-U Cordes Innovation Awards have recognized 35 top educational approaches in social entrepreneurship within higher education. Innovation Awardees are selected based on three criteria:

  • Innovation – Does this model address a clear challenge or opportunity for advancing an entrepreneurial or socially impactful mindset for the university context?
  • Replication – Can the model be easily adapted without losing quality and impact?
  • Maturity – Is there evidence of refinement and iteration of the model over time?

GESI’s commitment to global partnerships and community-based learning has helped it stand out from other study abroad programs.

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