On Saturday, September 20, the University of Texas, St. Edwards University, and Huston-Tillotson University collaborated in hosting the first annual Student Summit for Social Change. The Summit kicked-off the first event in Austin’s Be the Change week. The summit focused on community transformation through various team building activities and speakers from the collaborating Universities. The most popular amongst these activities was the “Guerrilla Art”. Chloe Sikes of the Longhorn Center for Community Engagement at The University of Texas states, “The Guerrilla Art activities were key to helping us reflect on what had been heard thus far in the program and synthesizing that into art and expression. Social change depends on that action-reflection dynamic: you can’t have effective change with only action, nor with only reflection. Both are essential, so it was a great way to put the intellectual reflection into action and to reflect on the information from the day.”
Guest speakers included Mark Strama, a former Texas Representative and head of Google Fiber Austin, Dr. Gina Tills from Huston-Tillotson University, and Dr. KatiePritchett from The University of Texas. Speakers touched on public service, social movements, creative expressions, and personal plans of action. Audience members were given a chance to interact with panel members involved in serving Austin. Among them being Rachel Barmore of the Longhorn Center for Community Engagement at The University of Texas. “After paneling, I took a greater appreciation for the commitment of students to social change and the way their individual projects relate to the idea of social change,” commented Rachel. Dr. Pritchett shared that, “It was an honor to be able to meet and work with students from all three universities. I was particularly interested in learning their stories and how so many of the student leaders were already working on efforts to make positive social change in the local Austin community—like digital inclusion issues for underserved neighborhoods—and abroad—such as organizing against unethical labor practices in sweatshop factories.”
At the end of the day, participants were given the opportunity to network across campuses and create action plans for their communities. “The Summit wasn’t creating leaders, it was bringing out the leader that was already within us through activities, inspirational speakers, and other student leaders from UT and other universities.” commented participant, Paco Lerma.
Here are some action steps on how you can take the leap toward Social Change:
- Like the Longhorn Center for Community Engagement Facebook page and or Twitter page (@utlcce) to find out about projects in the Austin area
- Go to utvolunteers.org for more volunteer opportunities
- Or Start a project of your very own!