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 […]
November 6, 2017
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.
NOTE: This article was originally published on Carleton Stories and has been cross-posted with permission of the author.
Babur Jahid, a third-year Biology and Health Sciences student at Carleton, has a clear vision for the road ahead.
After graduating, he plans to follow his passion for medicine to Harvard and complete the MD/MBA program. Then he’ll return to his native Afghanistan and work with the government to make health care more accessible.
Ultimately, he wants to become the country’s Minister of Public Health.
These goals may sound audaciously ambitious, but when you consider the 21-year-old’s accomplishments to date — including embracing social entrepreneurship to create a social enterprise that will provide affordable eyeglasses to Afghans — they seem not only within reach but also a pretty good bet.
“I want to use the opportunities I’ve had to make the world a better place,” says Jahid, who arrived in Canada as a refuge via the United States in 2013. “It’s my obligation.”
Third-year Biology and Health Sciences student Babur Jahid. Photo by Chris Roussakis.
How do we deal with “wicked” problems? Problems that defy easy, straightforward answers; problems riddled with incomplete, unknown or shifting information; problems that frequently bedevil decision-makers in the policy, non-profit and public administration spaces? Well, we squirrelled away to the Musqueam Cultural Centre on Coast Salish territory at the fingernail-tip of Vancouver to find out, courtesy of the
Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR), and its groundbreaking LabWISE program.
The LabWISE Process
The Shift Lab Stewardship team with Frances Westley, Cheryl Rose, and LabWISE mentors.
LabWISE was a three-day workshop geared at helping organizations create and launch social innovation labs to tackle their respective wicked problems. These groups represented a spectrum of social innovation: from environmental awareness and Indigenous education to healthcare advocacy and poverty reduction and many other issues. Many of these teams were just starting out on their systems thinking journeys, so no two organizations came at this from the same perspective.
NOTE: This article was originally published on the SiG website and has been cross-posted with the permission of the author.
“The truth about stories is that that’s all we are…”
― Thomas King,
The Truth About Stories (2003)
In 2015, the
Trico Charitable Foundation published four extensive case studies on the 2013 Social EnterPrize winners. Each case study was developed in partnership with the winning social enterprise and a post-secondary institution, converging the rigor of frontline experiential learning with the rigor of a critical academic lens.
The result? “A series of
social entrepreneurship case studies that, in terms of the breadth of the organizations studied and the depth of the analysis, is the first of its kind in Canada” (Trico Charitable Foundation, April 2015). Together, each social enterprise and academic team revealed and codified key insights, challenges and lessons from these four thriving social enterprises.
NOTE: This article was originally published on the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation website and has been cross-posted with the permission of the author.
We have reached a watershed moment.
After a century of robust development of technological and business innovation, plus several decades of cracking the code of social innovation, the time has come to create an integrated innovation system.Innovation has long been recognized as necessary for a nation’s economic and business success. But citizens have relied on a trickle down approach for the benefits from technological and business innovation to trigger broad societal well-being. Unfortunately today’s social, ecological and economic problems – ranging from preventable chronic disease to social exclusion to youth unemployment to climate change – are escalating in scale, severity and urgency. They won’t wait for laissez-faire innovation. Society’s needs and innovation’s benefits can be more directly connected and aligned. The opportunity of the 21st century is to harness the combined power of social innovation and mainstream (technological and business) innovation.
“It’s been so meaningful to know that there are others who are going through something similar and who understand that each day is a little different. Sometimes, it’s okay not to feel okay. As long as we can find our way out of the darkness and find a space to ignite our passions.”
Zoya Jiwa is hoping to make a statement in the fashion and social impact worlds by creating an online platform where people with health conditions can creatively come together. At the young age of 14, Zoya was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease that can create inflammation in an individual’s organs. She also lives with fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by intense pain in muscles and soft tissues. By personally understanding how health conditions can be an overwhelming challenge, especially when it comes to what to wear and how comfortable the clothing is, Zoya has developed the safe haven of As We Are to create a community of understanding. According to its website, As We Are “is a space where comfort meets style, where functional fashion thrives, and where courage shines.” As We Are works to alleviate shared pain by exchanging strategies, sharing personal stories, and finding different ways to build self-confidence. This project does not believe in the commonly perpetuated idea that people can only live a vibrant life after they get better from their ailments. As We Are aims to create a space where people can celebrate and embrace themselves as they are in the present.