Conferences Roundup 2017-2018

There is rarely a dull moment at Wesleyan – especially inside the Allbritton Center – and with so much activity happening right here on campus, it’s easy to overlook opportunities to learn outside of the Wes bubble. Throughout the year and around the world, there are countless conferences, institutes, bootcamps, meetups, and startup weekends focused on social entrepreneurship, and if you find one that fits your schedule and budget, it can be pivotal to your personal and professional development as a social changemaker.


With that in mind, we’d like to share some of the events taking place this year. The price tags might surprise you, but don’t let the sticker shock scare you away: undergrads can apply for a Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Conference Grant  (while funds last) to help defray costs, use personal savings, or ask for help from family (don’t dismiss the idea of considering this a vacation or birthday gift, for example). Many conferences will offer free admission to those who are willing to volunteer at conferences (which is a great way to rub elbows with presenters!). There may also be other sources of funding out there, such as the WSA’s Student Budget Committee if the event is closely related to your work with a student group. The conferences often overlap with classes, but if you find yourself stranded on campus, you can usually follow along online for free.


We’re eager to hear your thoughts on these events and hear about others you have attended. If you plan to attend any events this year, we may be able to help arrange rideshares. Please contact us at with your updates and questions.



October 1-4, 2017
Boston, MA
Founded in 2009, SUSTAINATOPIA remains one of the leading events in the world for social, financial and environmental sustainability & impact. Consisting of both a mega-conference and a broad-ranging Festival, SUSTAINATOPIA brings together the global ecosystem of social, financial and environmental sustainability & impact. There are six different tracks, ranging from smart cities, resilience, and community to clean tech & water.


Social Enterprise Conference
“Leaders Taking a Stand: Social Impact in Turbulent Times”

October 7, 2017

Explore how to enact social impact across disciplines: philanthropies, nonprofit organizations, social ventures, and traditional business. In this year’s conference you will meet business and organizational leaders who actively use their platform to drive change in education reform, the refugee crisis, job creation for the formerly incarcerated, and climate change.


Social Capital Markets (SOCAP 17)

October 10-13, 2017
San Francisco, CA

SOCAP is the world’s leading conference on activating the power of capital markets to drive positive social and environmental impact – convening the marketplace at the intersection of money and meaning.


Clinton Global Initiative University

October 13-15, 2017
Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
Tickets are free for accepted students (travel and accommodations not included)

Building on the successful model of the Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together world leaders to take action on global challenges, President Bill Clinton launched the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world. Each year, CGI U hosts a meeting where students, university representatives, topic experts, and celebrities come together to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges. The meeting will bring together more than 1,100 students to make a difference in CGI U’s five focus areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health.
Vanessa Chen ’16 attended the 2015 CGI U Conference.



October 19-21, 2017
Camden, ME

Inspire. Motivate. There’s no room for complacency. Only possibilities.
This conference brings together a global community of innovators, working together to expand the edge of change.


Igniting Innovation Summit on Social Entrepreneurship

October 21, 2017
Cambridge, MA

The Summit is the largest undergraduate-run conference on social innovation in the U.S. –a synergy of leading innovators, educators, and entrepreneurs. It unites students, academics, and leaders in the field who are passionate about developing innovative solutions to today’s most pressing problems.


Net Impact Conference (NI17)

October 26-28, 2017
Atlanta, GA

The Annual Net Impact Conference guides attendees to their career with impact. For NI17 we’re creating an experience unlike any conference you’ve been to before. We’ll help you map out your Path to Purpose to turn your passion into a purposeful career by gaining tangible skills and actionable insights.


The Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns 
“Guns in American Society”

October 27, 2017
On campus
$100, $25 for students

This year’s annual Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns, made possible by a generous grant from the Shasha family, will convene experts, including Wesleyan alumni, from different fields across the country to examine current debates about the role of guns in American history, society, law and politics.


Obama Foundation Summit

October 31-November 1, 2017
Chicago, IL
Apply by 9/27

During the inaugural Summit, hundreds of leaders from around the world will come together to exchange ideas, explore creative solutions to common problems, and experience civic art, technology, and music from around the world. They are accepting applications from young leaders who are passionate about social change and civic engagement.

Finger Lakes Social Entrepreneurship Institute
November 10-12, 2017
Ithaca, NY
$100 for students, with a 10% early bird discount if you register before 10/15
The 2017 Finger Lakes Social Entrepreneurship Institute supports new and experienced social entrepreneurs with valuable knowledge, training, and a community of like-minded individuals who are committed to creating economies that are ecologically sound and socially just. The Institute features worker-owned cooperatives, community based systems dynamics, and theory of change.

Intrapreneurship Conference  

November 15-17, 2017
Toronto, Canada
$2000 until 10/12, then $2400

Although it continues to be a learning journey, several companies are starting to find the right mix of elements for their innovation programs to deliver results. Beyond the 1-day ideation challenges and hackathons, the focus is now on implementation, in tune with the context and culture of the broader organization. You’ll work with international field experts and corporate innovators to get solutions to your challenges.


Public Policy and Leadership Conference

February 8-11, 2018
Cambridge, MA
Free for eligible first- and second-year students; apply by 11/8

This conference aims to inspire talented, driven, and diverse first- and second-year undergraduate students to pursue careers in public service. Among these careers include positions in federal, state, or local government, nongovernmental organizations, nonprofits, intergovernmental organizations, international institutions, and social enterprises. PPLC serves as a pipeline for first- and second-year undergraduate students from historically underrepresented and underserved communities.


Spring Lobby Weekend by Friends Committee on National Legislation

March 17-20, 2018
Washington, D.C.
$50/ $25 reduced rate

Join hundreds of young adults for a four-day conference with training, networking, policy briefings, community, and advocacy.


Open by VentureWell

March 22-24, 2018
Austin, TX
$560 for students

VentureWell’s OPEN conference gathers together representatives from across the I&E spectrum to share stories, start new collaborations, and learn emerging best practices in the rapidly evolving field of technology entrepreneurship education.

IMAGINE Social Good 

March 23-25, 2018
Richmond, VA

IMAGINE unites students who have committed themselves to building a more just and livable world. Whether you are already involved in an organization, or looking for ways to become involved, #IMAGINE18 brings together world-class speakers and experienced experts with motivated students to both educate and inspire one another!

Ashoka U Exchange

April 5-7, 2018
Boston, MA
$475 for students

The Exchange is one of the largest international gatherings for college and university professionals to learn and share leading practices for embedding social innovation in higher education. Throughout the gathering, participants come together to share how they equip aspiring changemakers – through their classrooms, co-curricular programs, departments, institutions, communities and beyond – to catalyze long-term, meaningful change and social impact.


Global Health and Innovation Conference

April 14-15, 2017
New Haven, CT
$110 for students

The Global Health & Innovation Conference (#GHIC) is the world’s leading and largest global health conference as well as the largest social entrepreneurship conference, with 2,200 professionals and students from all 50 states and more than 55 countries. This must-attend, thought-leading conference convenes leaders, changemakers, and participants from all sectors of global health, international development, and social entrepreneurship.


The Global Engagement Summit

April 18-22, 2018
Evanston, IL

The Summit is a week-long conference held every April at Northwestern University. Delegates from around the world arrive with change-based projects that can tackle any social change from education to healthcare to sustainability. Delegates leave the Summit with tangible skills and newly learned strategies to improve their project and create change in the most effective way possible.

The Impact Summit

June 1-3, 2018

The Impact Summit will empower a community of ambitious tech students to challenge the status quo by connecting them with seasoned social entrepreneurs, meaningful career opportunities and financial capital to ignite their ideas. The Impact Summit is a chance to meet other students on a national scale who are passionate about technology and social good.


Next Gen Summit

June 8-10, 2018

Next Gen Summit is the premier global community and conference, built for young entrepreneurs, by young entrepreneurs. The 2017 Next Gen Summit welcomed 700+ attendees from 6 continents, 2 dozen investors backed by $4.2 billion in capital, 50+ speakers, 50+ mentors, founders of billion dollar brands and companies, NBA and NFL stars, Shark Tank alums, world-renowned fitness experts, underwater drone creators, and countless young entrepreneurs who are motivated to change the world. Hundreds of entrepreneurs from all over the world will join together in New York City for an unforgettable weekend of connection, collaboration, and inspiration.


ACLU Conference

June 10-12, 2018
Washington, DC
$125, Contact Andres Villalon ’04 for travel subsidy info:

The ACLU Conference brings together ACLU members and activists alike for learning, mobilization, and inspiration. The event is an opportunity for members from around the country to exchange ideas, to celebrate the extraordinary history of the ACLU, and to look forward to the challenges ahead.

Classy’s Collaborative

June 12-14, 2018
Boston, MA

The Collaborative is a 3-day immersive experience where today’s changemakers co-create the future of social entrepreneurship. Participants will make meaningful connections with nonprofit leaders and peers—and head home with actionable strategies and tools to accelerate change.

Allied Media Conference

June 14-17, 2018
Detroit, MI
Tickets are priced on a sliding scale of $60-$500 (true cost is $150)

Held every summer in Detroit, the conference brings together a vibrant and diverse community of people using “media,” defined as anything you use to communicate with the world, to incite change: filmmakers, radio producers, technologists, youth organizers, writers, entrepreneurs, musicians, dancers, and artists. The conference features over 300 hands-on workshops, panels, film screenings, Detroit tours, art and music events, strategy sessions, karaoke, bowling, collaborative art and more!

Aspen Ideas Festival

June 21-30, 2018
Aspen, CO



June 22-24, 2018
St. Louis, MO
Sliding scale with scholarships available

CommonBound will bring together movement leaders, activists, and organizations from across North America to create a space for planning, strategizing, and movement building. The conference will feature a combination of network gatherings, closed and open work/strategy sessions, trainings, listening sessions, workshops, debates, and other formats exploring a range of topics through thematic tracks.