Pegah Djamzad, manager for SFU’s new Changemaker Campus program.

Faculty and Staff

Q&A with Pegah Djamzad on SFU’s Changemaker Campus program

January 09, 2019

In 2017, SFU became one of just over 40 institutions worldwide to achieve recognition as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. This is a global network of leading, higher-education institutions that are committed to advancing social innovation and changemaking across their institutions and beyond.

There is a lot of curiosity surrounding this designation. So we sat down with Pegah Djamzad, the new manager for SFU’s changemaker campus program, to get a better understanding of how students, staff and faculty can help push the boundaries of changemaking and social innovation on campus.

Q&A with Pegah Djamzad, manager for SFU’s new Changemaker Campus program

Q: How do SFU’s vision and Ashoka’s vision align?

“Everyone a Changemaker” is Ashoka’s vision for a world where all citizens are powerful and contribute to change in a positive way. SFU’s vision is to be Canada’s leading engaged university, defined by a dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research, and far-reaching community engagement. These visions both aim to contribute positively to an ever-changing world, and to re-envision higher-education’s role for the future.

Q: What does it mean to be a changemaker?

A changemaker is someone who is intentional about solving a social or environmental problem, creative and motivated to act.

Q: What was the designation process and how did SFU benefit?

It was a result of a multi-year process supported by the entire SFU community. In the first phase, we fulfilled a 360-degree campus scan, mapped examples of social innovation and changemaking at SFU, and drafted a cohesive vision and action plan for moving forward. This was followed by an Ashoka U site visit to SFU, and finally, SFU change leaders made a case for our designation during a full-day panel interview.

The designation process brought changemakers together from across all three campuses to collaborate and think of ways to further integrate social innovation and changemaking into our institutional culture, practices and programs.

Q: SFU was designated in 2017. What have we done since then?  

SFU has delivered several priorities in its action plan. These include hiring the Changemaker Campus program manager, reviving our radical campus spirit through the Academic Plan, and adding new curriculum offerings such as the Civic Innovation Change Lab for undergraduate students. SFU changemakers also presented at the 2018 Ashoka U Exchange, explaining how SFU is leading regional and national multi-stakeholder social innovation labs, and embedding changemaker thinking in student coursework and projects. They also discussed how changemaking is impacting our institutional operations.

Q: What are some of the SFU opportunities identified in the designation process?

SFU has a diverse and multi-disciplinary network of changemaking leaders, a strategic university vision that supports changemaking and innovation, and various units and initiatives that are driving SFU forward in this work. The opportunity lies in scaling and better connecting the great work that is already being done at SFU. We can do this by improving coordination and how we communicate changemaking opportunities to students and the community, and continuing to grow new programs and initiatives.

Q: How does your work as the Changemaker Campus program manager support SFU?

I will be working collaboratively across the institution to execute SFU’s changemaker action plan. To do that, I’ll be bringing SFU changemakers together to build community; to amplify changemaking opportunities for students, staff and faculty; and to tell SFU’s changemaking story.

Q: What are some challenges that you anticipate?

SFU is a complex organization with many priorities. The changemaker action plan is quite ambitious and targets all areas of the institution. As we move towards re-designation in 2021, we will be challenged as a community to push the boundaries of changemaking and social innovation in our work, research and studies, and to get creative in how we integrate these values into SFU culture.

Q: How can students, staff and faculty get involved today?


·      Register to participate in the Map the System Challenge by January 28, 2019.

·      Represent SFU at the Ashoka U Exchange this February.

Faculty / Students / Staff:

·      Join a growing community of changemakers at SFU by sharing your insight here.

All SFU Community Members and beyond:

Contact Pegah Djamzad ( to find out more about SFU’s Ashoka U Changemaker Campus designation, SFU’s action plan for changemaking and how you can get involved.