Episode 27 - Strategies for Change Making with Josephine Balzac
In this episode, we explore some interesting courses called Strategies for Change Making, Be The Change, and Intrapreneurship taught by Josephine Balzac of Rollins College. In these courses, students learn the necessary skills to bring about lasting change in their communities. We also dive into Josephine’s own journey into change-making and how she approaches her work as an attorney, professor, and activist.
Biography of Josephine Balzac
Josephine M. Balzac is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Entrepreneurship. Professor Balzac is a licensed attorney admitted to practice in Florida and the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida. She focuses on environmental law and was the President of the Law Office of Josephine Balzac, P.A. from April 2014 to June 2018. In 2017, Ms. Balzac was appointed to serve on the City of Orlando, Mayor’s Green Works Task Force. She also serves her community as the Vice President of the Board of Directors for IDEAS For Us, the Board of Directors of ACLU Central Florida, the Legal Advisory Board of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence, and the Public Interest and Law School Liaison Committees of the Environmental and Land Use Section of the Florida Bar.
In October 2017, she was recognized by U.S. Representative Darren Soto as a community leader as a part of Hispanic Heritage Month. While at Rollins College her greatest honor is receiving two teaching awards, a Student Government Association’s Outstanding Faculty Award and the Walter E. Barden Distinguished Teaching Award. She also received the 2017-2018 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation Faculty Fellowship. She holds a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) from Florida A&M University College of Law where she graduated as valedictorian of her class. She received her Masters of Law (LL.M.) in International Environmental Law at The George Washington University Law School. While attending GWU Law, she served as a Randolph C. Shaw Research Fellow for the Associate Dean of Environmental Studies and interned at the Environmental Protection Agency. Ms. Balzac is actively involved in the local community, frequently educating and advocating as an avid speaker on environmental laws, sustainable development, climate change, human rights, food, and social justice issues.
Josephine Balzac: Instagram: @josiebgreen, Facebook: Josephine Balzac, Twitter: @josiebgreen
Ideas for Us: www.ideasforus.org
Ashoka U: www.ashokau.org
Rollins College Social Entrepreneurship Program: www.rollins.edu/social-entrepreneurship
Human-Centered Design: www.designkit.org/human-centered-design
Jerrid Kalakay 0:10
Welcome to the teaching change podcast where we explore issues and social entrepreneurship, education and innovation. I'm your host Jerrid Kalakay. On today's episode, we have Josephine Balzac from Rollins college, Josephine. Welcome to the show. Hi, thank you so much for having me here. That you're from Rollins college, you teach some really interesting things. What is your official title at Rollins?
Josephine Balzac 0:33
So I'm an assistant professor and the Department of Social entrepreneurship. Social Entrepreneurship has been a major there now for five years. And we just last year officially became our own department. So that's really exciting.
Jerrid Kalakay 0:48
Yeah, that's awesome. And and you, we were just chatting before, before we started recording, and you're, you're teaching some really cool sounding courses.
Josephine Balzac 0:56
Yeah, that's one of the great things at Rollins, we have some really cool names for courses. So one of the courses I teach, which is part of the core major, is strategies for change makers. And then I also teach an RCC course, which is a Rollins college conference course, which is what some might say, as a freshman seminar type, of course. And that's called Be the change. And then being a lawyer is my background. I also teach law and ethics of social entrepreneurship and innovation.
Jerrid Kalakay 1:30
Wow, that's very cool. And, and how do you define change making or change a change maker?
Josephine Balzac 1:36
Oh, wow. I mean, that's a complex.
You know, really someone who is willing to be innovative and Funny enough, maybe a creative destroyer, disrupting the status quo and willing to really make positive if social and or environmental impact in the world through newer, nontraditional kind of methodology.
Jerrid Kalakay 2:09
So So how does that work? You know, learning the law, and then kind of Now certainly not breaking the law. Suggesting that but kind of challenging the status quo? How does it all come together?
Josephine Balzac 2:22
Yeah. So, you know, honestly, I kind of, you know, it's crazy how life is in terms of the journey, I originally started teaching, business law and ethics. But that course was actually a requirement not only for business management but also for social entrepreneurship. And I can honestly tell you when I first started law school, I didn't really wasn't familiar with the term social entrepreneur, obviously, yes, entrepreneurship. But I started to really learn more and more about it, and really fell in love with creating businesses that can be used as a force for good, right. And at the time, I've always said, and I've always been taught, even in law school, it's that it's very important to know, the other side's case and argument better than your own, so that you can be able to tackle it right. And so when you're thinking of change making, and you're thinking about the social and environmental problems that we have in the world, a lot of those problems are created by the very systems that we're operating, and these systems can actually continue to perpetuate many of the harms. And the government does amazing work. And we absolutely all, you know, change-makers can take on many forms, but sometimes the very laws themselves or regulations. Keeping it that way may continue to perpetuate a lot of the problems that we have. And you know, so I talked to my students about even just environmental laws and how I hate to say this, but as an environmental lawyer, the very regulations just kill us more slowly. Yeah, no, yeah.
Jerrid Kalakay 4:12
Well, it depends, I guess, uh, who's at the helm? Right? Yeah. I mean, they might, they might actually be changed and kill us more rapidly.
Josephine Balzac 4:19
It's very true. But you know, like, so when you're looking at air pollution or water pollution, I mean, the very laws allow a certain amount of pollution to go into the air into the water. So those laws are actually continuing to perpetuate many of the harms. That that we're seeing, to some degree, I think that there is something to be said about a free market. You know, when I teach ethics, and when you're thinking about how to be a change maker, and how to do more good, not less bad, right? A lot of these environmental laws or the various systems that were are just less bad, not more good. So you're starting to see, definitely a shift in consciousness by consumers demanding positive change in the environmental and in the social realm. You're seeing this through many different kinds of certificates, you know, that are being or certifications on products or services through companies. So companies are voluntarily going above and beyond what the law requires. And if you're thinking about our ethical and social responsibility, it would be to go beyond what the very law is regulating you to do.
Jerrid Kalakay 5:43
Yeah, absolutely. I love that do it was do more good?
Josephine Balzac 5:46
Yeah, that's so far less bad, from cradle to cradle. That book. So I do have students read that book. And it's great because it talks about rethinking the way we make things right. And I think, you know, going back to your original question, when you're talking about change-making, it's really an outside the box, or better yet, there is no box kind of mentality, and really thinking radically different about how things are made, how our systems and I just love to challenge students and all of their assumptions. And just take these rose-colored glasses off these blinders off. And that's really what I felt happened to me when I was going through law school. I can honestly tell you when I went to law school, I just wanted to be your typical lawyer. I mean, I went in thinking I had worked in law firms. And I thought, I'm just going to go be like, what some people would say an ambulance chaser right and do some civil litigation, personal injury. But I was really exposed to a number of the injustices that were happening in the world and the environment, and human rights violations and the connection between a clean and healthy environment and our ability to fully realize our rights as humans. So that was really what led me into creating change and seeking justice. And I kind of knew pretty early on after taking a few environmental and human rights classes that that was the road that I wanted to take, and I wasn't going to be your typical kind of lawyer. No offense to any of them. I love them all. I have lots of friends that do that. Everyone has their own paths. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah,
Jerrid Kalakay 7:43
no, absolutely. Yeah, no, no, no, no fault to them, they do their thing that
Josephine Balzac 7:48
we will always need a lawyer, I will say that we love to hate lawyers at one point in our life, we're gonna call,
Jerrid Kalakay 7:53
ya know, and we did we don't hate lawyers in the show.
At least not the good ones.
And we'll allow our listeners to figure out who's good from the bad. But nonetheless, so So kind of that was kind of your path and kind of your awakening into this world. And that kind of into this work. How did you? I know you started teaching business law. Yeah. But I mean, how academic because now you're full time, right? Yeah, yeah, you're kind of all in on this academic thing.
Josephine Balzac 8:24
I am totally not exactly what I was expecting. So I did start teaching just as an adjunct. And at the same time, I had started my own law firm doing public interest law for environmental causes and issues and dabbling and, you know, some other kind of general litigation or not general litigation, but general practice issues. And I fell in love with teaching. I really did. I felt it was so rewarding every day, they're in the classroom. And they the business department, had gotten budget for some lines and asked if I would be willing to transition to a visitor. And I accepted. And for three years, I actually juggled both practicing law in my firm, and teaching. So what the majority of stuff that I was doing was reviewing and evaluating different regulations and policies literally all across the world, every month, I could have researched 30 different countries, all in the environmental realm. And I've started to really see this movement towards climate, you know, adapting to climate change, mitigating climate change, creating a zero-waste society, a lot of the different kinds of, you know, diminishing of fossil fuels and moving more towards renewables. So I continue to do that for a little bit. And at the time, the school Rollins, you know, starting to transition more and more into social entrepreneurship, and I started learning more and more about the field. And I went to as we were talking about the first Ashoka you exchange conference literally changed my life. I realized right then in there that I was a change maker, okay. And I had never really given myself that title. I had been really active in the community on environmental justice issues, climate justice issues, being an advocate, and some may even say, an activist, you know, speaking at rallies and doing marches. And right around that same time as when I met Chris Castro, and Klay and Lewis Ferrara, just so happened, we were all always being invited to the same kind of panels. And I'm like, hey, it's you again, what's going on? Chris asked me to be on the board of directors of ideas for us. And I think just the combination of the activity of me being a change maker in the community outside of Rollins, and bringing a lot of that into Rollins, and exposing more and more students to it, is how I just started to transition more and more into the social entrepreneurship major.
Jerrid Kalakay 11:20
But there are a couple things that you mentioned that our listeners might not be aware of. So a visiting professor is a professor that's working full time as a professor there literally visiting and so you were working full time as a visiting professor and in your own law firm. Yeah, at the same time, so you kind of pulling double duty, right? And now that's changed now? Yes. So no longer visiting and kind of stay?
Josephine Balzac 11:41
Yes. Yes, exactly. So the visitor, yes, is a year to year contract. There's no real outside commitment in terms of serving on committees or any kind of research. So it was, you know, my teaching classes. And so it was I had a lot more flexibility to do a lot of my work and my practice and in the community. But now as an assistant professor tenure track, I have significantly more responsibilities as Yeah.
Jerrid Kalakay 12:11
Yeah, yeah. academia has a lot and lots of meetings about meetings. Yeah.
Josephine Balzac 12:16
Talking about yakking about
Jerrid Kalakay 12:17
meetings. I'm sure everyone, I'm sure all of our listeners if they're in any kind of bureaucratic system, they're well aware of that kind of thing. Yeah. And then the other thing you mentioned was the show KU, and the exchange. So show KU. We've talked about it before on the show, but quickly, it's just a, it's a group of international organization that focuses on change-making, and they have an Ashoka fellowship that has about 3000 fellows that are groundbreaking social entrepreneurs from around the world and they have a show KU is their kind of their Shoko university or their Shoko higher ed, arm of it, and they host an annual conference called the exchange. So let's, let's talk a little bit about the courses UTM. Okay? I'm really interested to learn a lot bit more about the strategies for Changemaker because there's a debate in entrepreneurship, it's the oldest time probably as old as the field itself, that there are some people who believe that you can't teach entrepreneurship in the classroom only. And so I'd imagine now you're teaching change makers, which is like, entrepreneurship plus, you know, version 10.0, or whatever. I don't know what we be on. What I mean, what are the strategies? And how do you get that to the, to your students?
Josephine Balzac 13:28
So I think it's a great point that you made. This is actually a community engagement class. So it's a CPE. Course. And so Rollins has a significant number of CE courses across all disciplines because we really understand the curricular, the CO curricular and really involving the community,
Jerrid Kalakay 13:48
and what does, what does community engagement or CPE course what does that entail? Exactly.
Josephine Balzac 13:53
So that will require you choosing a community partner, and doing a type of service-learning where they're actually working with this partner in the community doing a hands-on type of learning, that ties back into the learning outcomes of the course. So working and being on the board of directors of ideas for us, they are the community partner that the strategies for change-makers class works with. So I think you made a really good point. And that, yes, you can learn a lot of these skills and the knowledge, but you definitely have to do a hands-on practical approach. And for me, that's just really a theme that I do in all of my classes, whether it be a C course or not, I try to make as many practical types of assignments for the students as possible. I really don't do tests in my classes. I know from being a student for so many years, it's like, you know, no offense to anyone that does testing. But for me, these types of skills and qualities are not something that they just need to memorize, for the exam to then forget later. want them to apply it?
Jerrid Kalakay 15:01
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, your own journey, first as a practitioner, and now as a scholar, what do you think is the most important for Changemaker to have in your opinion?
Josephine Balzac 15:15
So I really, you know, the the the basis of that course starts with thinking radically different, but then it goes right into having, you know, these, the entrepreneurial mindset, right. And so and I know that your podcast has talked about a lot of these different mindsets. So creative confidence, right, and embracing and learning from failures, iteration, being optimistic about things. Empathy is so huge, being action-oriented. And so these types of mindsets is really how we start the strategies for changemaker class before we go into the Human-Centered Design Thinking projects. So learning about the problems and the issues that we're facing in the world, our entire social entrepreneurship major, really infuses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. And it's perfectly aligned with the vision and mission of ideas for us as well because this is something being an unaccredited, nonprofit in Central Florida is really our goal and our focus. And so the students learn about the different issues and the different problems in it that we're having internationally and in the world, the main project that they work on with ideas is going through and I'll be completely honest, I go through human-centered design thinking and iterations with this course every semester. Yeah. Because I see different, you know, challenges and things that what's working, what's not working and being flexible myself into making it better and better and changing it. So each semester, the course has shifted and changed.
Jerrid Kalakay 17:00
Josephine Balzac 17:00
Yeah, different iterations. And I mean, I think it's true for even the law class of when I first started teaching, it is completely different than the 20 times later that I'm teaching it now. So yeah, so they go through Human-Centered Design thing. I think that's huge skill that the students need to learn and practice. We also talk about leadership, transformative leadership, using some of the resources from the transformative action Institute, IDEO acumen, they've gone through the acumen, I'm human center design thinking course some and have received a certificate for completion.
Jerrid Kalakay 17:42
So in so in your course, it goes through the online document. Yes, yes,
Josephine Balzac 17:47
they go through the online, which has its pros and cons and challenges in terms of logistics
Jerrid Kalakay 17:52
you can imagine. But
Josephine Balzac 17:54
But yeah, the students really enjoy that. And so this time, they have been grouped group work is important with so they go through that process together picking different StG goals. So the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. So this time, they're doing like zero hunger, quality education, reducing inequalities, infrastructure, and sustainable cities. And so obviously, Chris Castro is going to come in for that. Right. So some of the other strategies are storytelling, right? How do you tell a story of impact and be able to inspire and move people, not only to action and join the cause, but if you're looking for funders and donors, you got to be able to tell that that story of impact. Sustainability strategies, as well. I'm also starting to teach now two semesters in a row. intra Premiership?
Jerrid Kalakay 18:54
Oh, yeah. Let's, let's talk a little bit about that. Yes. What is that,
Josephine Balzac 18:57
so that's changed making within an hour already existing organization, and so really have adopted this, because, you know, some students may not be right away, willing to take the risk to start their own businesses or, you know, be an entrepreneur immediately after graduation. And so the truth is, is that many of them might be working within an organization. And so how do you maneuver through an organization to be able to be a change-maker? within you know, we're both, you know, working and, you know, within organizations, and there's, you know, a significant amount of change-making that, you know, we've been, we've been able to do so, you know, teaching students about that measuring impact, right? How do you gather metrics and data and, you know, really emphasizing on the fact that in a social entrepreneurship, you are value, you're measuring your success based on the value you've created, and the impact that you've had, not just on how much profit you had or revenues or gain? It's that
Jerrid Kalakay 20:11
whole wealth creation and social value creation. I know. And, and it's the valuing, how do you put a value on saving someone's life or saving a population's life or, you know, all these, these really complex things? And they're still not exactly we still haven't figured it out? The field still hasn't figured out exactly how to measure, these things. Because unlike our traditional entrepreneur colleagues, where it's all monetary, it's dollar amounts, and depending on where you are in the world, obviously, but it's, it's money. And so it's very easy to see, yes, I'm making more money than I was last year. So that's something doing better. But social value creation doesn't work that way. Yeah. And it's much more complex. And so
Josephine Balzac 20:53
it takes much longer, right. And I think you have to have really understood that this isn't something that's going to happen overnight. When you look at some of the greatest social entrepreneurs, sometimes it took decades, to create the type of impact that they're having. So, you know, having the students also understand that I think we're a very, I think just humans and you know, in nature are very impatient, you know, we want to see something. I mean, from today to tomorrow. You know, that's how we measure success. Yeah, no, I mean, one of the things I always tell students, and it's probably easier to say, you know, we can always give advice, and it's hard to take it, but I've always thought, follow passion and success will follow you. And I think, you know, part of being a change maker is being able to take that risk and be bold and courageous. I mean, I went from food safety regulatory, I consulting firm, to then private practice litigation and another firm to then jumping and leaping to starting my own firm, which was a huge risk, because I was leaving a pretty decent salary. Yeah. To then feast or famine.
Jerrid Kalakay 22:14
Yeah. You know what? I don't answer enough phone. Yeah. I don't get enough of my own coffee. Let me see how this goes.
Josephine Balzac 22:21
Yeah, literally, when I was in my own practice, I mean, I made my own copies. I did everything I can I faxed I, you know, I was really by myself for a while. And then being an adjunct. I think most adjuncts know, it doesn't really pay the bills. You know, being an adjunct. But if it feels something that that you're passionate about, right, and so when I got this, this opportunity, it every time I made that leap, as you were, you know, we're saying or that jump, it was definitely a risk, right. But I had to go with my gut and what I felt was what I was really passionate about, and I think that that is a skill, that you have to teach an entrepreneur, ship, any kind of entrepreneurship that you're going to take risks right and, and sometimes those risks pay off and sometimes you fail from the risk, but you learn from that failure. This is such a necessary podcast, to be honest with you. And we really need this not only in our community, but you know, all over the world to teach people how to be more and more changemakers so that we can have these, you know, these goals advanced as that ideal world that was created.
Jerrid Kalakay 23:43
You've been listening to the teaching change podcast where we explore issues of social entrepreneurship, education, and innovation. My guest today was Josephine Balzac of Rollins college and many other things. Till next time, be nice and change some stuff.