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USN partner in International Erasmus+ project promoting social innovation and digital storytelling in higher education

Addo Elephant Park. Photo
From Addo Elephant Park outside Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Department of Health, Social and Welfare studies at campus Porsgrunn has, in recent years, worked towards facilitating the use of social innovation and social entrepreneurship in education. Several interdisciplinary Innovation Camps have been conducted, and last spring the department established Norway’s first student enterprise in social sciences. The initiative is part of USNs strategic objectives, and is established in part through the Department's collaboration with the University of Roskilde, Denmark.

The department is now a partner in a consortium consisting of 12 universities in Europe and South Africa. The consortium was recently granted close to 1 million euros for a three-year project on social innovation and digital storytelling. The grant stems from the Erasmus+ program “Capacity building in the field of Higher Education”. The project is one out of 147 projects to receive funding and has been given the name “Common Good First – digital storytelling for social innovation” led by the Glasgow Caledonian University. The purpose of the project is to create a digital network of projects within social innovation which will enable better collaboration between innovation projects and higher education in South Africa and the rest of the world. The project has already received attention in South African press.

Common Good First. Photo

Working breakfast. Photo


The project had its kick-off January 23 – 27th of January in Port Elizabeth in South Africa and all 12 partners were present. In addition to presentations about South Africa, the days were spent working in groups preparing scope and project plans for the 12 various “Work Packages”. These packages have different content and participants. USN’s contribution will particularly focus on the development and use of digital storytelling in teaching and local collaboration. USN is working together with two representatives from the Rhodes University in South Africa as well as a project coordinator from the Glasgow Caledonian University.

The group will meet again in June at USN, campus Porsgrunn where USN representatives Inger Kjersti Lindvig and Nils-Petter Karlsson will partake. In addition, other USN staff and national expertise will contribute with their knowledge and experience in digital storytelling at this occasion.

Common Good First wins Ashoka U Innovation Award

Glasgow Caledonian University was recently awarded a distinguished Ashoka U Cordes Innovation Award for the Common Good First project. Ashoka U, a global network of universities and colleges which focuses on social innovation, awarded the project for its ambitions to identify, showcase and connect social impact projects to each other, and to universities for research, evaluation, teaching and student engagement.