Are you interested in working with us at the Innovation Hub in our leadership team? Do you have a passion for improving the student experience at UofT through innovation, research, and collaboration? Applications are now open for our Senior Research Assistant position!
By Betelehem Gulilat – Lead Editor & Writer
ZOOM, lockdown and asynchronous. These are some of many words that come to mind for this academic year. It’s also been a year of many firsts. Many more students have been attending classes remotely, campuses have transformed, and the Class of 2020 has celebrated their graduation virtually in their homes within their bubbles.
The uncertainty unearthed many concerns for the future both near and far. Whether its deciding where to study or spend time with friends, or travelling amongst a sea of students, losses have been felt all around. For others, the pandemic might have also felt like an unexpected gift to reflect on what’s important. Perhaps it’s been a mix of everything, too! We have seen these realities in our work, both through research projects and in our own teams. Reflection on what we have accomplished this last year not only helped us learn from our experiences, but it also reaffirmed why holding space for meaningful work is so important.
When it comes to social justice everyone has a role in ensuring our society is equitable and fair for all its members – no matter their race, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or educational background.
For generations, Black lives continue to be undermined within our society as a result of long-standing institutional racism embedded in daily practices. To dismantle these systems in place, and to truly be anti-racist, we must understand the experiences of Black lives in various communities and examine our view of ourselves and one another.
By Johanna Pokorny – Senior Research Assistant, Amal Yusuf – Data Analysis Researcher, Rosemarie Shephard – Data Analysis Researcher and Betelehem Gulilat – Lead Editor & Writer
In Canada alone, 2 out of 5 post-secondary students experience some form of food insecurity2. Food insecurity is described as inadequate and insecure access to food as a result of financial constraints3. Its prevalence within the student population is overlooked by many considering the significant implications it has on students’ livelihood, learning and overall well-being. It’s complex and interconnected with our core needs and different for each and every individual in our communities.
In March 2021, the Innovation Hub and the Centre for Learning, Leadership & Culture will launch a Design Thinking Experience Program (DTEP) for students and staff. Building on the success of the Innovation Hub’s student and staff DTEP bootcamps, this program will continue to address challenges in the student experience at UofT while providing participants with hands-on training in design thinking; moreover, it will bring staff and students together to encourage dialogue and broaden perspectives on what is possible at UofT.
As we approach the month of February, the Innovation Hub will be recognizing and honouring Black History Month, a period dedicated to celebrating the centuries of traditions, heritage and achievements made by African Diaspora across the world. This upcoming month, a new chapter of history will be added to this powerful novel, based upon the series of unfortunate events that transpired over the past year. The previously existing racial injustices and violence faced by Black communities were for the first time observed on a world-wide scale. But most importantly, what was clearly observed was the concern of not only the past and present, but the future to come.
‘Silence ensures that history repeats itself’Erin Gruwell
With restrictions in place in many of our communities being flexible and responsive to new ideas has become essential. By finding creative ways to work around limitations, design thinking has come to the forefront. Organizations (like the Innovation Hub) are using design thinking to solve their own unique set of challenges, and nurture mindsets that inspire change. Since the lockdown, our Leadership Team has been navigating and responding to internal challenges in new ways and are continuing to do so – many of which are explored in this post.