Imagined Worlds

How Imagination Drives Innovation

By Darren Clift, Writer

It’s easy to exercise creativity during childhood, when imaginations are unrestrained. But as we grow up, we learn to leash our imaginations, to criticize our own creativity. The open parks of childhood become the closed spaces of our grown-up selves.

Design thinking seeks to re-liberate our creativity, but the forces and learned behaviours pushing against it are strong. To see how design leadership can nurture fresh ideas, I spoke to Gabriele Simmons, a Senior Project Assistant at the Innovation Hub.

The Innovation Hub is Hiring for the Summer 2020 Work Study Term!

We are hiring!


Julia Smeed – Manager, Innovation Projects

As we work and learn in these uncertain times of COVID-19, the Innovation Hub has been thinking deeply about our projects this summer, and how they can truly benefit the UofT community and beyond. We want to offer our potential team members the opportunity to both contribute to the university and learn new skills during these times. We’re looking for dedicated students who are interested in improving campus life by focusing on student needs, who want to work with design thinking inspired methods, and also have the ability to work remotely and engage in virtual project work in collaborative environments. We hope to put together a diverse team that enjoys the challenges of our work!

Please note that job postings go live April 30th, 2020.

The deadline for applying to positions is Monday, May 4th, 2020 at 11:59pm.  

Read below for job descriptions, and go to the Career & Co-Curricular Learning Network and search for the work study job board to find the positions and apply.

The Many Dimensions of Space

Bird's-eye view of a large open space with students sitting at communal desks and others walking through

By Cynthia Zheng, Writer

What does space mean to you? According to Dictionary.com, it’s a noun: the “expanse [where] material objects are located and […] events occur.” But it’s more than that sterile definition—it’s what constantly surrounds us, what we inhabit, and thus part of our mental and physical experience.

The Innovation Hub has conducted many projects examining the experience of space. Examples include Transforming the Instructional Landscape, Chill Spots, and the New College Dining Hall and Clara Benson Pool Gallery redesigns. Through this work, we’ve seen how the physical environment impacts us.

Mental Health Feedback Events: This is what we heard: did we miss anything?

Kate Welsh, Design Research Team Lead, Mental Health

Since September, I’ve led the Innovation Hub team working to gather student insights about mental health in partnership with the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health. I’d like to personally thank everyone who came to our events in September and provided us with your thoughts. We appreciate you. We heard you and your voices matter.

The Innovation Hub: Our Vision for 2019–20

Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Leader

At the Innovation Hub, we are what we do. We commit ourselves to community growth through prototyping and iteration, not only in the design projects we take on, but also in designing our own work processes. By being responsive to the changing needs of the community—both internally, within our own team, and externally, with our project partners—we continually improve our practices.

Project Primer: Transforming the Instructional Landscape

Nick Smith,
Design Thinking Team Lead

In the Transforming the Instructional Landscape (TIL) project, we try to understand what makes a classroom work as a productive learning environment. As this work has progressed, it has expanded to include many perspectives: we started by focusing on the student experience, but came to realize that student experiences are entangled with the experiences of other people who spend time in and around classrooms, and with the spaces and things that promote learning.

Spotlight: What Do We Mean When We Talk About Community?

Social and Cultural Community at First Nations House

Charis Lam – Design Research Events Lead

Written by Charis Lam – Design Research Events Lead

In search of factors driving student engagement, First Nations House partnered with the Innovation Hub in summer 2018 to ask: what causes students and staff to engage and connect with First Nations House? Among the factors identified—including assistance with scholarships and housing, personal relationships to staff members. and access to the resource centre—cultural and social programming emerged as a need strongly felt by students. Thus, First Nations House and the Innovation Hub renewed their partnership to investigate what sorts of social and cultural programming students want.

The Innovation Hub is Hiring for Summer Work-Study Positions!

By Kaitlyn Corlett, Project Assistant and Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Projects Officer

Kaitlyn CorlettPhoto of Julia

Now that the winter term is coming to a close, it’s time to consider some exciting opportunities at the Innovation Hub for the summer 2019 term. The Innovation Hub offering a wide range of work-study positions open to all students who meet the eligibility requirements. These positions offer opportunities to work with various areas at the University of Toronto in team-oriented environments that are supported by innovative, design-thinking practices.

Finding Community at U of T

Photo of MoniqueBy Monique Gill, Innovation Hub Big Ideas Team Member – Neighbourhood Communities 

Diversity is a quality that is celebrated widely across the University of Toronto campuses. Our Neighbourhood Communities team is looking at ways in which we can harness the diversification of our student population, and more specifically student neighbourhoods, to better cultivate student connection and U of T spirit. By collecting data on our student’s geographical areas, we are looking at the feasibility developing a platform that would allow U of T students to meet up in their very own neighbourhoods to facilitate student self-organization like social events, study groups, and ride sharing.

Reflecting on Innovation Hub’s Evolution

Photo of JuliaBy Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Leader

It’s hard to believe that in a few months the Innovation Hub will be approaching it’s two year anniversary since our launch event in May, 2016.  So much has happened in the past two years that I felt this would be a good time to reflect on this important work and what it’s meant to me and so many of the students, staff, faculty, alumni and other members of our community that have been involved.