Students as Change Agents is an interdisciplinary experiential learning programme that brings students together from different disciplines to tackle real-world complex challenges posed by external organisations from the non-profit, public, and private sectors.
This is a chance for students to learn new skills in a dynamic environment and apply their university learning to make a sustainable difference; to society, the environment, or the economy. By offering these opportunities, we aim to accelerate students’ development in creating work, world and change ready citizens.
At its heart, Students as Change Agents invites students to work on social innovation challenges of interest to them, places them into diverse teams of mixed academic background, gender and cultural heritage, offers a tailored training programme and culminates with the student groups delivering their thoughts and solutions directly to the external challenge host.
The programme responds to multiple needs within the Higher Education context of the University of Edinburgh in its attempts to offer new learning experiences with skills development, modern leadership and student satisfaction at the core.
In phase one of its pilot, Students as Change Agents has so far delivered three programmes with over 100 University of Edinburgh students participating. In delivering these challenge programmes, we have worked with a diversity of external challenge hosts including; Robertson Construction Group, Scottish Widows and the Chartered Institute of Insurers, Sustainably, Craigmillar Development Trust, Clan Childlaw and the and UN Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.
As part of the programme delivery, we have partnered with a range of trainers to create bespoke training on a range of subjects for participants. We are resolute that our training programme must be unique in its approach, transforming education beyond knowledge. As such we have created our training programme with partners including Edinburgh Futured Institute, Edinburgh Innovations and the Social Enterprise Academy Scotland. The training we have created has focused on developing the following key skills:
Evaluations from the initial pilots have demonstrated that students who participated in the programme increased their confidence in Data, Problem solving and Team Work as well as extending their external networks.
The current Students as Change Agents programme has been tasked with evidencing how these types of real world experiential learning activities could be scaled up to positively impact 1000s of future students and external projects. It is hoped that scaled up activity will contribute to a highly valued University of Edinburgh student experience that contributes more than just knowledge to students and the community.