By Christina Bondi, Storyteller
I am absolutely thrilled to introduce our Fall/Winter 2018-2019 team! The Innovation Hub is made up of passionate, knowledgeable, and creatively engaging individuals—both new and returning. This diverse team of staff, work-study students, and volunteers embrace a hands-on, multidisciplinary approach. I am deeply inspired by my fellow teammates, whose personal and academic experiences add both flavour and depth to the I-Hub’s work! Together, we hail from various academic fields, degrees, and even regions of the globe!
In its third year of trailblazing, the I-Hub continues to tackle University of Toronto student experience-centered questions and challenges. Our team probes via design thinking and ethnographic/empathetic research.
During one of our introductory meetings, Claire (the I-Hub’s Connector) and I prepared a brief activity for all team members. This activity involved both personal, written reflection and group discussion. Claire designed an infographic (see above), by applying team feedback to question four (‘Describe the Innovation Hub, in 3-4 key words’). Interestingly, we noticed that ‘collaborative’ and ‘human-centered’ arose most often; this is telling of what the team understands and promotes as key in the I-Hub’s success. This, in many respects, parallels my own impression of the Innovation Hub. Reflecting upon the I-Hub’s unique approach, I highlight that its members (mainly students) strive to gain insight into the ‘worlds’ of University of Toronto students, staff, and faculty (human-centred). Such insight is achieved through a collection of participatory (collaborative) methods, such as interviewing and observation. At the Innovation Hub, we work with one another (team-based) and research participants (community-based) to help illuminate the realities of UofT experiences.
On September 29th and 30th, the I-Hub held a full weekend training for both staff and volunteers. The weekend format allowed us to build a sense of connectedness, commitment, and collaborative dynamism early on. This training also provided teams the opportunity to touch-base and begin constructing a formal project plan. An evocative research question launches each of these project plans:
- Family Care Office: What are the experiences of students with family responsibilities, and particularly student parents, at the University of Toronto?
- First Nations House: What sort of cultural programming will students want to attend at First Nations House?
- Housing Services: What are the thoughts, feelings and experiences of students going through residence applications portals at the University of Toronto?
- Multi-Faith Centre: What are the students thinking and saying about the MFC and how can the MFC meet the spiritual needs of all students in their search for meaning, purpose, and identity in everyday life?
- New College Dining Hall: How can the New College dining hall be redesigned to offer an innovative multi-use community eating and social space for students and staff?
- SLP Network: How can the SLP network better serve the needs of all student life professionals at the University of Toronto?
- Trademark Licensing: What are the ways that pride in the University can manifest in students’ lives?
- UTSC Student Life: How do the programs and services of the Department of Student Life and the international Student Centre contribute to campus life at UTSC?
Through community-building and problem-solving, this year is sure to bring about more constructive, energizing change to UofT students.
We look forward to immersing ourselves in this work!
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