Strategy for Change is a European Project started in 2015 and made up of seven partners: Glasgow Caledonian University; GCU Students Association (UK); Dublin City University; Office of Student Life DCU (Ireland); Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands); University of Aveiro (Portugal); and Interactive Institute Swedish ICT (Sweden).

The S4C Project is co-financed by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ Programme. The Project aims to establish a formalised transnational training programme to prepare students for carrying out effective social innovation projects in the local community.

The project is implemented by the following consortium: Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), Dublin City University (DCU), University of Aveiro, Eindhoven University of Technology, Interactive Institute Swedish ICT and the Students Associations at GCU and DCU.
Umeå School of Architecture partners up in the project, with a pool of students that are part of the educational activities and support the evaluation and the development of training material.

The programme will meet a series of specific objectives:

  • develop awareness and skills among students for effective community action
  • incorporate entrepreneurship, ICT  and leadership and other transversal skills as a means to instigate change and address societal challenges
  • create effective learning pathways – especially for widening access students to benefit from the opportunities offered through community engagement and social responsibility, raising completion rates and enhancing employability prospects.
  • benchmark students’ social innovation activities within five institutions, carry out virtual and physical mobility for exchange of best practice
  • design a formalised transnational, extracurricular programme structure with a view to future accreditation.
  • ensure a sustainable model by introducing a virtuous circle through training of trainers feeding back their knowledge and experience into the programme.

In this sense the project directly addresses the EU’s priorities:

  • by 2020, 40 % of 30-34 year olds in the EU should have completed tertiary or equivalent education Studies have shown that students engaged in community action projects are more likely to complete their tertiary education.
  • directly involve employers and labour market institutions in the design and delivery of programmes The project allows for the direct engagement between the student and their community, underlining the universities’ role as an instigator of change.
  • Exploit the transformational benefits of ICTs and other new technologies – integrated within the training as part of the development of students’ transversal skills
  • students completing a study or training period abroad to 20 % by 2020 – Introduction of virtual and physical mobility will contribute to increasing numbers of mobility, with a particular focus on widening access students who might otherwise find it difficult to enroll on other mobility programmes
  • enhance close, effective links between education, research and business The project will directly engage with social enterprises and other community groups which will.

Most universities have adopted some kind of ad hoc programme for community engagement. This project takes the process one step further by introducing a more formalised, transnational, extracurricular training programme that will incorporate the most advanced processes developed in social innovation such as Design Innovation (DESIS) and Changemaker initiatives (ASHOKA). It also takes on board the experiences and lessons learnt in programmes such as EUCLID network’s Erasmus for Social Entrepreneurs under the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme.

The project is a partnership between five partners, made up of universities and institutes, with experience of changemaking/social innovation activities within their campuses (eg. ASHOKA, DESIS…)

  • The universities have a dual involvement, through their university governing bodies and through their local student associations, either as an additional independent partner or jointly with the university itself.

There are two types of beneficiary:

  • Students: the initial target will be to engage 500 students in each institution (2500 in total) depending on the community engagement activities already in place (target would be significantly reduced if little or no engagement activity already exists).
  • The training itself will be delivered at three levels: awareness raising, delivery of social innovation projects, and feedback and training of trainers.
  • Communities: At the same time, the communities themselves will benefit from the projects implemented. As such they will need to be actively involved in the delivery of the project, initially through the establishment of an Advisory and Evaluation Committee, established both locally and transnationally.