Social impact - building a community of change

14 March 2017

Jessicas Harvard graduation resizedHarnessing new technologies, using innovative teaching methods and thinking about business, law and social impact differently, are central to building the next generation of change-makers, according to 2012 Menzies Scholar Jessica Roth.

Jessica, who completed a Master of Laws and flagship leadership course at the Kennedy School of Government with the support of a RG Menzies Scholarship to Harvard, was inspired after spending a year immersed in learning amongst some of the best scholars and educators in the world.

Jessica has a particular interest in educational pedagogy and she chose courses with brilliant teachers.

“In the leadership course I did at the Kennedy School, the classroom was a leadership lab and through the experience, I came to appreciate the particular challenges of adaptive leadership,” she said.

Through the Human Rights Clinic at the Law School, Jessica worked on a project with The Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity (MSI Integrity), which is dedicated to examining the impact and value of voluntary business-related human rights initiatives.

The overarching aim of MSI Integrity is to create collaborations between business, civil society and other stakeholders that address negative impacts of business operating in our globalised economy through developing codes of conduct, implementing monitoring and developing standards.

“The course was an amazing opportunity to develop professional skills through working on a real project that made a difference. I was very fortunate to attend a consultation at the Dutch Embassy in Washington towards the end of my time working with MSI Integrity and it was fantastic to see such external high level validation of our work,” she said.

Upon returning to Australia, Jessica felt that Australian students should also have the opportunity to have these sorts of transformative experiences, similar to those offered through her degree at Harvard. Her motivation and experience led her to establish the Social Impact Hub.

“I believe that education and capital are two of the most important tools we have to change the world for the better. The Social Impact Hub focuses on education as its core tool for change and through the educational process, we also try to empower and amplify the impact of existing social change agents with whom we work,” she said

“Traditionally, we have taught our law students knowledge about particular areas of the law. However knowledge is now at our fingertips - technology is more powerful than the human brain at recalling knowledge. Legal education needs to change to teach students skills, especially higher order thinking skills as well as team work, critical analysis and soft skills to equip them for the changing jobs in the decades to come,” she said.

Jessica believes that as the globalisation of our world continues, it will be essential for our future lawyers to be global lawyers. Her goal through establishing the Social Impact Hub is to provide students with an opportunity to develop professional skills through real-world experiences that have a social impact.

“I want our organisation to be a part of growing the social impact sector and building the next generation of change-makers. We want to educate and empower a courageous community of change,” she said.

Tags: Law Harvard Education Innovation Entrepreneur