The Innovation Hub


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To improve campus life through student-centric design.

Interconnected people with a heart in the middle.


A campus experience designed for every student to flourish academically, socially, and personally.


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Accessibility by Design

Accessibility shouldn’t be an accident or an add-on. We design with accessibility in mind from the beginning, so our projects, events, and materials are available to as many people as possible.

Individuals interconnected.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

We want to learn about more than one group of UofT students; we want to learn and design for everyone. By practising Equity-Centred Community Design, we find insights and solutions that include all students and community partners.

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Inspire with Meaningful Data

We use design-thinking, user-experience, and qualitative research techniques to find and query data on underlying needs. By combining evidence and empathy, we help the UofT community better understand its members.

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Learn Together

We work with both students and staff. Our interdisciplinary teams use curiosity to learn new techniques and solve problems together.

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Listen to Student Experiences

We’re driven by student stories. We think understanding their journeys is the key to cultural change.

A colourful graphic that says 'Innovation Hub Domains' in the centre. The five domains surround it, all interconnected.

Five domains underlie our projects. No matter what issue we’re working on, at least one of these areas drives student flourishing.

  • Access for Every Student
  • Fostering Connectedness
  • Future-Ready Students
  • Integrated Learning Experience
  • Whole Student Development

We co-created these domains with students, staff, and faculty, and we’re working towards a university where the following domain goals come true for every student:

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Access for Every Student

All students have equitable access to programs, services, resources, and spaces.

Domain Goals

  • Create accessible digital and physical spaces
  • Remove financial barriers
  • Support under-represented and diverse groups
  • Streamline institutional navigation
  • Encourage participation and engagement
  • Improve financial literacy

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Fostering Connectedness

Students experience a sense of belonging and connection within the UofT community.

Domain Goals

  • Nurture international engagement and intercultural understanding
  • Cultivate relationships
  • Increase peer connections
  • Build and connect communities
  • Bring different groups together

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Future-Ready Students

Students have opportunities to develop their skills and build their confidence beyond academics.

Domain Goals

  • Prepare students for a changing world
  • Provide more work-integrated learning
  • Expand mentorship opportunities
  • Develop leaders
  • Help students explore and develop their careers
  • Foster lifelong learning

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Integrated Learning Experience

Students engage fully in learning experiences both within and outside of the classroom.

Domain Goals

  • Foster academic and co-curricular connections
  • Facilitate experiential and immersive learning
  • Encourage in-class engagement
  • Equip faculty with information to support students
  • Encourage self-directed learning
  • Improve online learning options

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Whole Student Development

Students receive the support they need for their holistic well-being (physical, psychological, social, and emotional).

Domain Goals

  • Cultivate mental, physical & spiritual health
  • Build self-efficacy and self-motivation
  • Foster resilience and self-care
  • Help students develop senses of identity, meaning, and purpose


Student experiences, like all human experiences, are diverse and complex. We need many lenses to understand them, so we draw inspiration from several methods.

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Design Thinking

People solve problems to meet human needs. Yet too often, problem-solvers put on their technician hats (asking “What is feasible and viable?”) rather than their fellow-human ones (asking “How do people feel about this? What do they really want?”). Design thinking brings us back to the human, through empathy-based observations and interviews. It reminds us to fit design to human needs, rather than humans to design specifications.

Sticky note with a profile of an individual and two machine gears.

Integrative Thinking

Tricky problems spawn multiple solutions. That’s a feature, not a bug. Rather than arguing about “either-or,” we can choose “both-and.” Integrative thinking challenges us to face seemingly conflicting ideas and take the best of each, to produce something different and better yet.

Sticky note of a pencil drawing two profiles of individuals.

Ethnographic and Empathy-based Research

Ethnography is the study of how people live their lives. Ethnographers—usually anthropologists and sociologists—immerse themselves in the worlds of other people to see how their experiences are felt and created. We use the techniques they developed to delve into the hopes, fears, desires, and needs that underlie the student experience.

Sticky note with three hands collaborating on ideas.

Community-Based & Collaborative Methodologies

Each person is an expert on their own life and experiences. By recognizing this expertise, designers and community organizers can enrich their ideas for community growth. We treat students as experts in the student experience, no matter their program or degree level, and empower them to connect with other students, faculty, and staff to improve life at UofT.

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Equity & Anti-Oppressive Practices

Designing for all students means recognizing and including their diversity. We commit to equity, inclusivity, and accessibility. Our professional and volunteering opportunities are open to students from all backgrounds and at all stages of education. We provide equity and anti-oppression training for our team members, and we connect with communities to include diverse voices. 


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The Innovation Hub offers events in-person and virtual. Students are encouraged to attend for the entire duration of the events. The session will be run by student researchers. During the events, Students are welcome to take breaks during the session as needed.

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Being on camera, using your mic, or participating in the chat is encouraged when attending virtually. We welcome you to participate in a way that works for you. Students are welcome to bring their own questions to the event. Participation in person is encouraged.

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If attending in person, all paper, pens, and materials will be supplied by the Innovation Hub. You are welcomed to bring a laptop, tablet, smartphone, and/or notebook/agenda should you wish to take any notes, however, not required.

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Platform Access Information

If attending online, this event will be delivered using Zoom. Please ensure your Zoom access is up to date to make the most of this session. To learn about the accessibility features on Zoom and how to use them, you can read more about the overview of accessibility features Zoom Website.

If attending in person, this event will take place in the Innovation Hub. Check out our accessibility in the space on the Innovation Hub Contact Us Page on how to navigate to our space and space considerations.

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Technology and Sound

If attending online, this event will be taking place over Zoom and will require a computer or device with this platform installed, with speakers or a connection to a headset. The majority of sessions will be dialogue based, where questions will be posed verbally and through the Zoom chat function.

If attending this event in person, TV screens and speakers will share the PowerPoint slides and sound, respectively.



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Accommodation Notes

The events hosted by the Innovation Hub are geared for students of all backgrounds and lived experiences, fostering our values of equity, diversity, and inclusion in all aspects of our work. Students who self-identify as living with a disability are encouraged to attend. If you require any accommodations to fully participate in this event, please connect with in advance of the date.

Please note that some accommodation may require at least 12 business days' advance notice.



The events hosted by the Innovation Hub are geared for students of all backgrounds and lived experiences, fostering our values of equity, diversity, and inclusion in all aspects of our work. Students who self-identify as living with a disability are encouraged to attend. If you require any accommodations to fully participate in this event, please connect with in advance of the date. Please note that some accommodation may require at least 12 business days' advance notice.

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If you have other questions about this event, please feel free to contact us at


  • [Ongoing] Moving Forward

    Light bulb wiht rays of lights with one ray a twirled arrowWe continue to navigate our work through student consultation sessions, co-design projects, community events, and more! We can’t wait for you to be a part of this journey!

  • [2021] A Hub for Innovation

    A open, brightly lit room with moveable furniture and white boards along the side. We opened our space at 230 College Street, at the Student Commons Building. A space for innovationcollaboration and connection, and to inspire further change with students.



  • [2020-2021] The Pandemic – Working Remotely

    A mosaic of students connecting over Microsoft Teams, with sticky notes around the outside with writing on them such as "navigating resources" or "commuting students". Dashed lines and icons are connecting with one another to visualize collaboration in research.

    We continued our design research projects virtually, prototyping new ways to engage with students by launching the Stories from a Distance program to support student social connections. This inspired a design research project on Building Digital Connections in Uncertainty. We also ran 'How are you doing?' virtual feedback sessions with students to check in and understand student needs in changing times.

  • [2020] What Matters to UofT Students?

    Team members using sticky notes as design toolsFour years later, we reflect on our research, domains of innovation, and hundreds of interviews from students, instructors, and UofT community members. We shared and presented a final report on What Matters to UofT Students?'


  • [2019] Presidential & Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health

    An arch that reads The University of Toronto, on a bright and sunny day.We engaged with students across UofT through a multi-staged consultation process in partnership with the Presidential & Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health. We shared our recommendations with the Task Force, provided insights to our community, and shared  Designing a Culture of Care at the University of Toronto.

  • [2019] Chill Spots Becomes a Reality!

    Students working together on a board game. The Provost launches the Student Space Enhancement fund for Chill Spots to be built across three campuses, based on the Chill Spots for student spaces Idea from our first year of work!

  • [2018-2019] The Design Thinking Experience Program

    Students collaborating together in a brightly lit room with a variety of activities on a tableWe delivered a new program for students and staff who want to gain hands-on experiences with design thinking in partnership with the Centre for Learning, Leadership & Culture, expanding the reach of our human-centered approach.

  • [2018] Building Partnerships & Community Connections

    An event space that has students walking around ,attending booths for activities and information.This foundation helped to begin fostering community partners across different departments and divisions, moving to a student-led design thinking consultancy model with various partners at UofT & co-creating togetherOur pilot report reflects on the first two years at the Innovation Hub, and goals for the future.

  • [2017] Ideating Five Big Ideas

    chill spots presentationAfter our launch and a research survey of the UofT student experience, 25 innovative ideas designed to create a better student experience. Of these 25, the following five ideas emerged as the most promising: 

    • Chill Spots 
    • U of T Concierge 
    • Neighbourhood Communities 
    • Future Readiness Course 
    • Student-Faculty Exploration Café 

    Through the Big Ideas event we continued to explore opportunities to bring these ideas to life.

  • [2016-2017] Innovating Together with our Communities

    Individuals surround paper posted to a wall, discussing ideas and writing down concepts.Working with students & instructors for the first time and ideating togetherwe co-created our Domains of Innovation to better understand student experiences & generate innovative ideas.

  • [May 2016] The Innovation Hub Launches

    image of students, staff and faculty sitting in a circle and discussing the innovation hub team structureThe Innovation Hub begins, where 250+ community members came together to support our launch & imagine future possibilities for the Innovation Hub.