Ateneo de Manila hosts discussion on Universities and Innovations for Inclusive Development
by Yvan Ysmael Yonaha
The Ateneo de Manila University’s Development Studies Program hosted a discussion on Universities and Innovation for Inclusive Development last November 8, 2012 at the University’s Leong Hall Roof Deck. The discussion is one of the many forums to be organized by the Program with the support of UNIID-SEA. These forums aim to bring together students, faculty, inclusive development practitioners and other sectors to discuss academic and practical concerns regarding innovations for inclusive development.
Leland Joseph Dela Cruz, Director of the Development Studies Program, introduced UNIID-SEA to the audience which was composed of administrators, faculty, and students from the Ateneo de Manila University, administrators from Xavier University and the Cebu Institute of Technology , faculty from Ateneo de Davao, De La Salle Lipa, the University of Santo Tomas, and the City University of Hong Kong, and guests from the social enterprise and innovations sector.
Mr. Dela Cruz described UNIID-SEA as an organization that seeks to “mainstream innovations for inclusive development in universities and research councils in Southeast Asia”. He mentioned in his spiel that the Development Studies Program received funding to conduct research with five other faculty members from other schools to conduct research on “Enhancing Service-Learning at the Loyola Schools of the Ateneo de Manila University.” The Program also received funding for convening activities to help mainstream innovations for inclusive development.
Mr. Dela Cruz likewise informed the group that UNIID-SEA would be issuing a second call for proposals and encouraged those present to submit proposals.
The forum proper sought to generate discussion on the role of universities in the process of promoting innovations for inclusive development. Two speakers from two universities started the discussion and this was followed by responses from practitioners from among the innovations sector.
Engr. Alein Navares, Chair of the Cebu Institute of Technology’s Industrial Engineering Department opened the discussion as the first resource speaker. In his speech entitled Eco-Imagineering: Designing Green Social Enterprise thru ESD, he narrated the efforts of his department to create graduates “who have the competence in [their] field and also would like to contribute to social development”. Such efforts are in line with their mission, which “includes “conceptualizing effective, economic, environmentally sustainable service and manufacturing systems by combining the fields of sciences, engineering and management”. He then cited stories of innovations they offered to communities such as rocket stoves made from scrap metal, bags from recycled materials as well as lighting fixtures and water rafts.
When asked by Dr. Darwin Yu of the Ateneo de Manila University how Cebu Institute of Technology motivated students to do service-learning, Engr. Navares replied that they complemented curricular requirements with extra-curricular formation.
Xavier University’s Engr. Ermin Pimentel served as the second resource person for the forum. His talk entitled “Engaging Small Farmers in Their Resource Strengthening and Marketing: Collaborative Services Learning Program” focused on the integration of Xavier University’s Service Learning initiative with the effort of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to promote innovations for inclusive development. He highlighted the support he received from Xavier University because of its institutional mission and drive. He also noted that there are limits to what the academe can do and that it must not attempt to replace NGOs and grassroots organizations through its Service-Learning initiatives.
Responses from practitioners regarding the role of universities in the promotion of innovations for inclusive development were then solicited.
JP Melgazo of the Asian Social Enterprise Incubator was first to articulate another perspective. According to him, universities can help Social Innovation practitioners by providing new ideas and assessing business models that work.
On the other hand, Mark Ruiz, President of Microventures Inc., differentiated social projects and social enterprises saying that the latter involves long-term engagement with the community while the former tend to be short-term insertions. He also echoed the importance of having concrete alliances with NGOs to ensure that projects are continued even after the Social Learning classes have ended. This seemed to resonate with the earlier points raised by Engr. Navares on the importance of working with barangays and the work that Xavier University did with CRS.
Finally, Rico Gonzalez, managing director of xchange, cited the significance of long-term interaction and integration into the community in order to truly innovate enterprise. He admitted that one of the main difficulties of long-term integration is the amount of time required but emphasized that the gain outweighs the costs in this endeavor. He also proposed several concrete moves that Service Learning classes in the Ateneo de Manila can pursue in order to move to this direction such as assigning classes to a certain community as early as their first year which they will stay with until the end of their stay in college.
It was apparent that the time allotted for the forum was not enough and the participants looked forward to similar discussions with each other in the near future.
Related Links:University of Malaya opens a new course on Sustainable Innovation,Ateneo Development Studies Program and UNIID-SEA open doors to social innovation,UNIID-SEA partners with Ateneo DISCS to develop an open courseware on IID
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