The Ambassador Meetings

Headshot of smiling young man with short brown hair in olive green shirtBy Taylor Stinson Student Co-Leader, Whole Student Development Domain

The Ambassador meetings were a time and place to meet, bridge and connect with our new coworkers, the Innovation Hub Ambassadors.  Walking into the room I see a number of faces of people I met with in the previous weeks. The clear enthusiasm they bring is warm and comforting.  The meeting format is similar to the Innovation Hour format. Continue reading “The Ambassador Meetings”

Our Student Life Staff World Cafe

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By Ling Lam Student Co-Leader, Future Ready Students Domain

The Innovation Hub was the topic up for discussion at Student Life’s Themed Agenda Meeting on September 20, 2016. This was an amazing opportunity for the Student Leaders of the Innovation Hub to meet with staff members from various departments within Student Life. With the intention of gathering the insight of various staff members of Student Life, our team decided to facilitate a World Café styled meeting. In this style of meeting, each staff member would rotate through a cycle of four tables, each with a question related to the Innovation Hub.

The four questions discussed were:

  1. What questions do you have about the Innovation Hub?
  2. How might we creatively capture evidence/data/stories of the current student experience?
  3. What do we need to unlearn in order to improve the University of Toronto student experience?
  4. What is an example of a UofT student experience that stands out to you?

Using these questions, we were able to generate a great amount of discussion in the room. While each question touched on a different topic, there were some common threads that weaved their way through all of them:

  • Each UofT student is an incredibly unique, complex, intersectional being. There is not just one student experience that can encompass the all of the stories of our diverse student body.
  • Innovation should not be a top-down process – we need to work collectively and build up in order to truly improve the student experience.
  • There is enormous value to be gained from “reverse mentoring” – we need to ensure that we are listening to students and what they have to say about their experience at UofT.
  • In collecting data, there is a tendency of only capturing the voices of those who are successful and willing to participate. We must figure out how to access the voices of students who experience struggle and remain unheard.
  • It is important for staff to recognize that their own student experience is likely different than that of current students.

I was thankful that I had the opportunity to lead the discussion topic 4 (what is an example of a UofT student experience that stands out to you). I believe that so much value is contained within people’s stories – there is so much to be learned through lived experience. Hearing each of the staff members share, it was interesting to hear such a wide array of stories. While success stories were told, it was the stories of students who experienced challenges that stood out to me.

It was reassuring to connect with staff members that recognize how each and every one of us goes through a unique journey at UofT. I could not agree more that our experiences cannot be summarized in one story; there isn’t a magical formula that will generate “success”. I know that my experiences at UofT have differed greatly from the experiences of those of my friends and colleagues. As part of the Innovation Hub, this World Cafe deepened my resolve to find ways of ensuring more students find their stride at UofT and beyond.

We greatly appreciated Student Life’s willingness to share their experiences and knowledge. As we move forward, we will continue to keep each of these meaningful considerations in mind!

What is an Innovation Hub?

Headshot of smiling woman with curly blonde hair in blue dressBy Alexandra Rodney, Student Innovation Leader, Operations Team

I’m Alexandra, a PhD student in Sociology here at the University of Toronto, and I am going to be contributing posts about the research side of things to the Innovation Hub blog. Whether you’re new to the Innovation Hub or have participated in some part of creating the Hub, you may be asking yourself “what is an innovation hub?” To answer this question we need to think about the concept of innovation and the postsecondary context. There are over 87,000 students at the University of Toronto who are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. The UofT student demographic today is vastly different than a generation ago and is also different than it will be in the future. If student demographics are changing it raises the question of how student services need to change in response. This is where innovation comes in! Continue reading “What is an Innovation Hub?”

Mark Your Calendars – October & November Innovation Hours


The Innovation Hour is a great opportunity to come together with like-minded students, staff, faculty and community members who wish to create a more seamless student experience at University of Toronto.  The Innovation Hours are hosted in the Baldwin Room, main floor of the Cumberland House (33 St. George St.)  Mark your calendar for the upcoming Innovation Hours:

  • Tuesday October 18th from 9:00am – 10:00am
  • Thursday October 27th from 10:00am – 11:00am
  • Thursday November 10th from 10:00am – 11:00am
  • Tuesday November 15th from 9:00am – 10:00am

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Meet the Hub’s Student Leadership Team and Join our First Team Meeting

Headshot of smiling woman with light brown hairBy Margaryta Ignatenko, Operations Team Student Innovation Leader

Imagine a University of Toronto where every student’s experience is seamless from initial contact to graduation and beyond. A place where students feel a sense of community and connectedness, experience both academic and personal success and feel well equipped for their futures.

The Innovation Hub doesn’t see this as a distant reality – we are seeking to better understand the unique needs of U of T students through the use of student-centred design thinking. We value listening and empathising with our students, we seek out their voices whenever we plan, program and make decisions. We have carefully crafted a team which will collaborate with a diverse range of U of T students, community members and staff to explore the future of student experience at the University of Toronto. The team members’ different experiences, skill sets and educational backgrounds will provide a constant, authentic and diverse presence of student voices throughout the project. Continue reading “Meet the Hub’s Student Leadership Team and Join our First Team Meeting”

Let the Team Building Begin

Headshot of smiling woman with red hair in grey topBy Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Lead

Happy Monday!  It’s the first day of classes for most students in our St. George community, so let me begin by wishing you an incredible start to the new school year.  Amidst the whirlwind of activity going on around campus this week, I hope you can take a few moments to breathe that crisp fall air and appreciate the beautiful campus that surrounds you!

I’m excited to let you know that our student leadership team is now established and you’ll have a chance to meet them later this week as they introduce themselves on the blog.  I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but I can say that we have a fantastic team of students to lead our Hub. Continue reading “Let the Team Building Begin”

Recap – Hub Progress to Date

Headshot of smiling woman with red hair in grey topBy Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Lead

We are so excited to launch the Innovation Hub blog to provide a space for dialogue about innovative mindsets and methodologies and to document the story of the Hub.  Over the past two months we’ve been busy identifying our domains for innovation and preparing to build the Innovation Hub teams.  I’d like to first take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the hundreds of students, staff and faculty who were part of this process.  It’s been so wonderful to work collaboratively and I am so excited to continue this work with you! Continue reading “Recap – Hub Progress to Date”

Creating the Domains for Innovation

Headshot of smiling woman with red hair in grey topBy Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Lead

Since the launch and the Day of Learning, our five Domains for Innovation have been evolving.  A team of over 30 Ambassadors continued this work which led to six versions of the domains for innovation.  We are so pleased to say that thanks to all of the input and feedback from the community, we have landed on the following five domains: Continue reading “Creating the Domains for Innovation”