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Global grant drives CQUni’s changemaker agenda

Published:01 January 2019

CQUniversity is Australia's only Ashoka U Changemaker Campus.

A CQUniversity project to bridge gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff and students has received international backing, with a Working Across Differences Fund grant from Ashoka U.

The $US10 000 grant is supported by the Fetzer Institute, and CQUniversity was one of six Changemaker Campus institutions to receive the funding, coordinated by world’s largest community of changemakers, Ashoka U.

CQUni’s “Social Innovation Lens with an Aboriginal Eye” project will use dialogue, education, and celebration of Indigenous Australians as social innovators to promote greater cross-cultural understanding.

Indigenous-led workshops hosted at five CQUniversity campuses will support staff and student participants to develop their own toolkit, breaking down epistemic views and fostering empathy, and making collaboration across diverse cultures a norm.

Bachelor of Aviation student and proud Bundjalung man Leslie Lowe partnered with CQUni’s Office of Social Innovation to apply for the year-long grant.

Mr Lowe has been involved with a number of social innovation initiatives at CQUni, participating in the Gladstone Social Innovation Studio in 2017, co-presenting the iChange social innovation short course, and as a partner in the Bundaberg Social Innovation Workshop earlier this year.

He's also managing director of Bundaberg's innovative TECKnology Indigenous Corporation, a not-for-profit sustainability management organisation.

“We are so impressed and excited by CQUniversity and its commitment to bridging differences on campus,” said Ashoka U Co-Founder and Executive Director Marina Kim.

“CQUni reminds us of the possibility on each campus to meaningfully and deeply foster a culture for the greater good.”

Mr Lowe and the OSI will now develop the program, in consultation with support from the Office of Indigenous Engagement. Opportunities to participate will be promoted across CQUni’s footprint.

CQUni Director – Social Innovation Lara Carton said the grant offered a unique chance to grow cultural understanding on campus, while tapping into global ideas about Indigenous opportunities.

“All six recipient institutions get to participate in quarterly ‘learning huddles’ to share learnings and better understand ways of bridging differences across colleges and universities,” Ms Carton said.

“This is the first time Ashoka U has offered the funding, so it’s exciting that CQUni can help lead the charge in this important conversation.”

Ashoka U Changemaker Campuses are a community of leaders and institutions that work collectively to make social innovation and changemaking a new norm in higher education and beyond, and CQUniversity is the only Australian representative.

Most recently, CQUni’s Office of Social Innovation delivered its fifth annual Gladstone Social Innovation Workshop, this year offering a three-day immersive to explore and design concepts for tackling homelessness.

The targeted workshop followed a big week of big ideas, as the Festival of Change returned across CQUni campuses for a second year, with more than 30 events across 10 regions.

All social innovation initiatives at CQUniversity reflect its role as a Changemaker Campus.