Change Labs are becoming an increasingly popular methodology across the world to address complex social, economic and environmental problems. There are scores of labs in Canada tackling food security, early childhood development, energy transition, affordable housing, water management and racism. There are even several more “permanent” lab platforms, such as the MaRS Solution Lab in Toronto, the Government of Alberta’s Co-Lab in Edmonton, and REOS Partners Social Lab group that facilitate lab processes for other groups. While there has been a great deal of experimentation with Labs, the field is still highly emergent. Most practitioners rarely document their approaches, systematically evaluate them, or share their learnings and failures with others. As a result, most Lab facilitators, participants, and those who […]
A collaboration between RECODE and UpSocial With one of the most accessible post-secondary sectors in the world, it comes as no surprise that various Canadian institutions excel at addressing social issues. From social value purchasing, to civic innovation hubs, there are many examples of institutions going beyond the functions of research and teaching by contributing to and collaborating with community. However, this institution-community connection is not yet mainstream in Canada, and scaling innovations can be difficult. Furthermore, social challenges, like refugee crises and food insecurity, permeate borders. As do social innovations. What can Canadian institutions learn and apply from exemplary international institutions? It’s this line of inquiry that led RECODE to partner with UpSocial, a Barcelona-based organization dedicated to implementing […]
January 30, 2018
RECODE’s goal is to increase solutions-centred 21st century post-secondary education that enhances community well-being. Our strategy is to amplify and cluster breakthrough innovations. As a funder, capacity builder and convener, RECODE works with partners to weave social innovation tools and practices into the very fabric of campus and community culture. You can read more about our strategies, activities and aspirations here. So how are we doing? In our 2016 end of year blog post we concluded that while we weren’t sure, we did have confidence that we were asking the right questions and were on the right track. We then set out to create the conditions for social infrastructure to be tangible and actionable on campuses in 2017. Looking back […]
January 5, 2018
Ever since people have been organising to achieve mutual goals, co-operation has existed. With its roots in combatting inequality and exploitation brought on by the industrial revolution throughout Europe in the the 1700 and 1800s, the co-operative has come into its own as a recognized legal corporate form, growing to directly employ 250 million people in 2.6 million co-ops worldwide. The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) defines a co-op is defined as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise”. The emphasis on autonomy and democracy – as well as a focus on members’ needs and not necessarily profits – is what draws many young […]
December 11, 2017
At the third annual Building Reconciliation Forum, hosted by the University of Manitoba, Indigenous people and settlers discussed progress, possibilities and challenges for reconciliation in post-secondary education. First, I would like to thank the people who welcomed me, a settler, as a visitor to Treaty One territory. By extension, my understanding of Indigenous issues in Canada is inherently limited as a settler. As a racialized ally and recent student, however, I believe I can provide valuable insight to fellow settlers working in the post-secondary sector. Here are my three significant takeaways from the Forum (these are my views and not intended to reflect those of the McConnell Foundation!): 1. ‘Indigenizing’ colonial institutions requires decolonization. “Decolonization and indigenization go hand in hand. […]
November 6, 2017
In my eighteen years as a university president, I have come to realize that, while policy usually drives institutional change, it is often the little things we do on our campuses that make the biggest difference in our immediate and extended communities. Following the first Charlottesville debacle in the U.S., community leaders, including no small number of university presidents, took to their keyboards to compose forceful statements on their commitment to diversity, taking public stands against the disturbing incidents that questioned the very nature of our social contract. Before composing my message to the King’s University College community, I stepped out of my office, took a right, and walked down the short hallway to the Vitali Lounge to breathe […]
Let’s take a moment to celebrate our collective wins, shall we? Back in October, two things happened that represent small but meaningful victories in the Canadian higher education landscape, especially as they relate to building a culture of social innovation and changemaking. #1: Canada has the highest per capita leadership representation at the 2018 Ashoka U Exchange. The Exchange is one of the largest international gatherings to learn and share leading practices for embedding social innovation in higher education. Last week, the Ashoka U Exchange Team shared some exciting statistics. Firstly, in its 8th year, applications from last year grew from 180 to 300. In just one year, we nearly doubled the number of changemakers wishing to contribute to […]
October 31, 2017
NOTE: This article was originally published on the UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education website and has been cross-posted with permission.
C2UExpo, Vancouver, May 1-5, 2017
The C2UExpo (Community Campus University Exposition) is ending today, May 5th, 2017. It is the 7th of these Canadian organised spaces where knowledge workers in communities, colleges and universities come together to share their excitement, challenges hopes and dreams. This unique space of knowledge democracy time after time allows the partners of co-creation to come together as equals in the epistemological power game with the common vision of using their diverse knowledges and skills towards making a difference in their communities. Community Based Research Canada (CBRC) is the national network that supports the movement between meetings, which facilitates the process of site selection and assures some elements of a common vision. Having now had the experience of six previous CUExpos (the original naming of this gathering was the work of Dr. Jim Randall, former Dean of Social Science at the University of Saskatchewan where the first CUExpo was held in 2003), I wonder if a Canadian approach to knowledge democracy is beginning to emerge? Perhaps I am only naming the vision I want?
Three years ago, social innovator Caleb Grove was inspired to start his first entrepreneurship project before he left for Bambalang, a small rural community in the North-West region of Cameroon.
Caleb recently completed a
Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (BSc Mechanical) at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Although Caleb’s major academic background does not involve business, he learned about entrepreneurship from a diploma program he took during the course of his degree called Technology Management & Entrepreneurship (TME). One group project he worked on in TME gave Caleb the means to seriously consider the feasibility of his idea of creating wind turbines in Africa. After receiving encouragement from Dr. Dhirendra Shukla (chair of the J. Herbert Smith Centre for Technology Management and Entrepreneurship) to seriously pursue the idea, Caleb and his team won the Social Innovation Award at the 2013 TME Pitch Competition. This course is what helped crystallize the idea of Caleb’s social venture, Mbissa Energy Systems.
NOTE: This article was originally published on Higher Education Strategy Associates and has been cross-posted with permission. It is the fourth post in our series on Indigenous Innovation and Education.
Last week, the University of Toronto’s Truth and Reconciliation Steering Committee released its final report, which sets out the institution’s response to the TRC’s Calls to Action. This seems like a good time to update my previous coverage on this.
First, I should say that on the whole I have been impressed by the response of the country’s universities and colleges to the TRC. I think there has been a commendable level of commitment shown by institutional leaders in trying to respond, as bet they can, to Justice (now Senator) Sinclair’s report. For the most part, institutions are getting better at creating and maintaining indigenous spaces, but that’s a fairly low-impact commitment. Many are saying the right things about trying to hire more indigenous staff, both academic and non-academic, though it will take years to see whether or not this actually comes to anything.