How can we increase the impact of our institutions to better strengthen our communities?




In our new discussion paper we explore how higher education institutions can harness and leverage their assets (financial, physical, relational, research and education) to build social infrastructure that will positively impact communities and advance societal well-being.

Maximizing the Capacities of Advanced Education Institutions to Build Social Infrastructure for Canadian Communities was commissioned by RECODE and Simon Fraser University for a recent roundtable dialogue of 19 university presidents held during the C2U Expo in Surrey, BC.


Our goal is to develop a greater understanding of instruments upon which advanced education institutions can draw individually and collectively to improve society’s prospects.

~ Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor Simon Fraser University

The meeting, and this paper, constitute a call to action for post-secondary institutions to accelerate and scale their beneficial social impact, at a time when it is critical to do so.

~ Stephen Huddart, President and CEO The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

Executive Summary

Society faces challenges and uncertainties that threaten social cohesion and community well-being in Canada and around the world. Advanced education institutions are uniquely positioned to invent and scale the solutions needed to enable a better quality of life for all of society within planetary thresholds. Many of these solutions can be found in their existing assets and capacities, which, when directed at building social infrastructure, can reveal the pathway for citizens and their institutions to thrive.

This paper sets out the social imperative and the business case for accelerated social innovation, and introduces a typology of assets that advanced education institutions can harness. Further, it defines a social infrastructure architecture to facilitate this essential transition. It concludes with a set of collaborative actions that advanced education organizations can pursue together to foster breakthrough ideas, and poses questions for further research and investigation.

 Download the paper

July 2017 – Building Social Infrastructure Retreat Report

We hosted a retreat with higher education representatives to discuss how to better leverage post-secondary social infrastructure assets in service of Canadian communities. Read our retreat report to learn how discussions unfolded and where we’re headed.  Download the report