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Pacific School of Religion Designated as Ashoka U Changemaker Campus

Orange tree in a circle.Pacific School of Religion has been designated as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U for being a leader in social innovation education. Pacific School of Religion will join the Changemaker Campus Network—a dynamic, global network of students, faculty, and fellows who share inspiration, connections and support.

Since 2008, around 40 colleges and universities from around the world have become Changemaker Campuses including Brown University, Duke University, Dublin City University, and the University of Maryland.

Pacific School of Religion (PSR) is a progressive, multidenominational seminary and center for social justice located in Berkeley, California.  Drawing on the strength of wisdom traditions, the prophetic voice of social movements, and Bay Area innovation, PSR prepares a diverse cadre of spiritually rooted leaders with the skills to envision and bring about a more just and compassionate world.

Borders and Identity

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and immigration rights activist Jose Antonio Vargas (center) recently spoke at our Borders and Identity conference.

“We are delighted to become the first seminary to be designated a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U,” said David Vásquez-Levy, President of PSR.  “The rigorous selection process has itself already strengthened our ability to make our education more of a world-changing experience for our students, and brought us into partnerships with leading educational institutions around the world.  This process has also affirmed the critical contribution our spiritually rooted leadership formation can offer the network and the world, by preparing leaders with the capacity to reframe the issues of our day, sustain themselves and their communities, and effectively bring about meaningful change.”

For more than 150 years, Pacific School of Religion has been committed to the goal of social transformation. PSR students and faculty members have been David giving a speech at a table with three people watching.leaders in many movements for social change, from organizing against Japanese American internment camps, to participating in the civil rights movement, to taking a moral stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline. PSR founded the first center for the study of LGBTQ issues in religion at a seminary in 2000 and recently launched the Ignite Institute, which is a hub for innovation at the intersection of spirituality and social justice.

Three conference attendees smiling for a group photoEducation at PSR prepares students to make deep systems and framework change in the world.  This is because the big questions of the meaning of existence – what has ultimate value, what gives our lives meaning, and how we choose to move in the world – is the fundamental underpinning of work, engagement with national policies, and our daily lives.

PSR students are trained to be innovative social entrepreneurs and intra-preneurs – some are creating new organizations and scholarship in the world that focuses on social justice, and some are learning the skills to lead change within the 2000-year-old institution of the church, to support thriving for all.

Two women holding up immigration justice signs.According to the Ashoka U selection report:  “PSR is at the forefront of redefining the seminary experience in the 21st century and shaping the intersection of religion and social innovation. Realizing the importance of religion and spirituality in shaping public life, PSR views itself in a powerful role to empower its community to drive systems and framework change.”

Ashoka U catalyzes social innovation and changemaking in higher education through a global network of entrepreneurial students, faculty and community leaders. Building on Ashoka’s vision for a world where “Everyone is a Changemaker,” Ashoka U takes an institutional change approach to ultimately impact the education of millions of students. Ashoka U collaborates with colleges and universities to break down barriers to institutional change and foster a campus-wide culture of social innovation.