Conferences Roundup

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 annual events related to social change. Don’t forget: 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 Gordon Career Center’s Career Development Grant, or 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.

Before you go, make sure to read this conference guide first. And make sure to subscribe to the Wesleyan ENGAGE newsletter so you can stay up to date on conferences and other social impact events.

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.




The groundbreaking, revolutionary experience for Black techies, startups and entrepreneurs returns! Join 3000+ of your fellow founders, entrepreneurs, engineers for a 360-degree look at how culture and tech runs the world.


Allied Media Conference


Held biennially 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!


Ashoka U Exchange


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.


Aspen Ideas Festival


The Black is Tech Conference
The Black is Tech Conference is creating a platform for black and minority tech professionals, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts to connect. The Black is Tech Conference was created as a platform to continue the push for more diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.


Business Today – International Conference

International Conference is a three-day all-expenses-paid opportunity that connects undergraduate students from around the world with top business executives. They connect the leaders of today with students like you — the leaders of tomorrow — to create a meaningful dialogue on the current business landscape.


Classy’s Collaborative

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.


Clinton Global Initiative University

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.



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.


Engage for Good 

If you work at the intersection of profit and purpose…you’ve come to the right place. ‘Engage for Good’ reflects our industry’s evolution from transactional campaigns to transformational initiatives that engage consumers, employees and causes.


Facing Race

A unique collaborative space for racial justice movement making, Facing Race is the largest multiracial, inter-generational gathering for organizers, educators, creatives and other leaders.


Girlboss Rally

A conference and community for ambitious women. Each Girlboss Rally is filled with inspiring conversation, skill-building workshops, and networking opportunities.



The Global Engagement Summit

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.


Global Health and Innovation Conference

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.


Hustle Summit

Hustle Summit® will connect you digitally and in-person to awesome companies, the coolest pros across industries who are ready to become your mentors, and your future life-long friends.



IMPACT National Conference

The IMPACT Conference is historically the largest national gathering of student leaders, administrators, faculty, and nonprofit staff committed to engaging students in service, activism, politics, advocacy, and other socially responsible work.


The Impact Summit

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

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.


Net Impact Conference

The Net Impact Conference has given attendees the opportunity to network, dream, plan, share ideas, and engage with the topics they care about most. Together, we’ll discover unlikely allies and new partners in the pursuit of a more just and sustainable world.
Eunice Lee ’19 attended the 2016 conference.


Open by VentureWell

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.



The PopTech conference is a convening of brilliant minds from different corners of the world. Far from a traditional conference, PopTech is an influential event that places high value on authentic human connection.


Public Policy and Leadership Conference

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.



PurpleCON is the ultimate brand amplification and business acceleration conference for social entrepreneurs. We elevate the stories of women and people who color who are scaling innovative companies and solving the world’s stickiest challenges. If you’re on a mission to make money and make a difference, you can’t afford to miss it.



The Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns Image result for wesleyan sasha seminar

The Shasha Seminar is an educational forum for Wesleyan alumni, parents, and friends that provides an opportunity to explore issues of global concern in a small seminar environment. Endowed by James Shasha ’50, P’82, the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns supports lifelong learning and encourages participants to expand their knowledge and perspectives on significant issues.


Social Good Summit

The intersection of technology and new media has redefined our understanding of human progress. In the midst of this rapidly changing world, the Social Good Summit focuses on where we’re headed.



Social Capital Markets (SOCAP)

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.
Hannah Dorress ’88 attended the 2015 conference.


Social Enterprise Conference

At this event, attendees have the opportunity to explore ways in which businesses and organizations are using capital to generate business solutions to global, systemic challenges. Attendees will learn from thought leaders about innovative ideas, best practices, and leading examples surrounding the intersection of business and society, opening up a dialogue to explore innovative and sustainable business models that they can apply in their future careers of impact.


Students for Zero Waste Conference

Post-Landfill Action Network’s day and a half event includes a keynote speech, student-led workshops, professional trainings, hands on sessions, affinity group meet-ups, and panels covering waste and environmental justice, coalition building, and the Point’s of Intervention theory of change.


The Heart Series

The Heart Series encourages conscious entrepreneurs, as well as organization and brand leaders, to share how business can create a socially good impact in society.



Spring Lobby Weekend by Friends Committee on National Legislation


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