Project Managers: Spud Marshall, Christian Baum and Eric Sauder
The co.space is a program where university students and experienced change-makers live together for two years. The purpose of the project is to grow and nurture future world-changers. Through the program, students are given opportunities to apply sustainability innovation and social entrepreneurship to local community projects and global internships. The co.space is particularly important to the millennial generation because more and more young people are passionate about becoming a global changemaker but are unsure of where to start. Gaining practical experience, connecting to mentors in the field, and tapping into the international network of practitioners can be overwhelming to a young person. The co.space is designed to create an environment where the barriers to taking those first steps are removed. The co.space will also serve to bridge the efforts of existing groups and organizations to better link the work millennial’s are already working on. (www.thecospace.com)
Working in partnership with New Leaf Initiative, a social innovation incubator based in State College, PA – a team of over 40 student interns began working on the co.space concept in the spring of 2012. In that time, we have secured a property and have begun developing the details for the program and projects to be run by the residents. In addition, we have developed the co.space champions program which will serve to oversee the expansion plan for the program. Currently we have received interest from over 30 cities around the world and have begun traveling to key locations such as Stockholm, Sweden and Cape Town, South Africa. This upcoming fall, we will have the first class of students participate in the program in State College.
Restoring Agency to Citizenship
Project Managers: Shaikh Ghalib, Ivana Wolfe, Martha Johnson, Alefiyah Lokhandwala and Thomas Natalini
Apathetic. Disillusioned. Inaccessible. Non-transparent. This is how young people might typically describe politics. They feel detached from a system that seems to change little in reality even if leaders, policies, and parties in power change. All they see or hear about politics, if at all, only reflects polarization and dysfunctionality. We focus on combatting the lack of relatability to politics. People should be politically aware, but voter turnout shouldn’t be the only focus. We will create welcoming, supportive, “nonpolitical” public spaces that would encourage young people to share their thoughts on life in their communities openly. By having open discussions with others their age, young people might see that some feelings, experiences, and problems are shared. We expect the supportive atmosphere and open discussion to create a collective consciousness that would spur service projects, in which young people would enact their own social change and feel its benefits themselves.
We hope to hold these open, supportive discussions as “coffee hours.” The food/drink and the presence of relatable young people there would hopefully attract people to get to know others in their community and find the common ground in their experiences. As people begin to see that others may face similar, local issues as they do, the desire for change should come. Since issues are local, they should be more manageable. We expect coffee hours to organically produce local service projects conducted by its participants. Addressing one’s own problems with their community, feeling the results, and building relationships in the process should orient young people in a more socially purposeful way.