In Conversation with Dr. Meng Xiao: Supporting Chinese International Students at the University of Toronto
Written By: Terri-Lynn Langdon, Lead Editor and Writer, Innovation Hub
At the Innovation Hub one of our projects focuses on engaging International students. International students currently make up 25.4% of the undergraduate and graduate student population at U of T.1 Questions around how the University of Toronto can support this group in the best ways possible and how their needs differ from domestic students is extremely important to the work that the Innovation Hub is engaged in, not to mention that, student engagement and a project by and for students is our bread and butter.
Meng Xiao recently wrote a book titled Student Engagement in Practice: Chinese International Graduate Student Engagement Handbookwhich is a book inspired by her own doctoral research from OISE’s Doctorate of Education Program at the University of Toronto.
Centering Hope, Action and Change for National Indigenous History Month at the Innovation Hub
Written by Terri-Lynn Langdon, Editor and Writer
June is National Indigenous History Month and The Innovation Hub wishes to celebrate this month and Day (June 21st) by celebrating the lives of Indigenous communities and acknowledging the richness and diversity of Indigenous knowledge, histories, and world views.1
In recent years, our work with Indigenous Student Services (also known as First Nations House) has focused on engaging with spaces, services, and needs for Indigenous students on campus. Through these projects, we collaborated these spaces from 2018-2019 to foster spheres of community on campus. The Innovation Hub then explored the core needs of services that are needed on campus for Indigenous students to feel supported and engaged throughout their respective studies. It’s through these integral community partnerships and our design thinking processes and resources that we continually work to address realities that Indigenous lives, spaces, and communities face in a Canadian context (and beyond).
#DisplayYourPride 2020: Celebrating Pride and Intersectionality at the Innovation Hub
Written by Terri-Lynn Langdon and Kaitlyn Corlett
Happy Pride Month, 2020!From all of us at the Innovation Hub, let’s celebrate love and affirmation for everybody. Thisis especially important in a time where many of us may feel disconnected from our communities, spaces, and activities that ground us forcelebrating this important time of year.At the Innovation Hub,we often celebrate #DisplayYourPride in a collaborative activity to connect with one another and express how we are celebrating.Since we can’tconnect in-person this year, we are celebrating by acknowledgingthe important history of Pride and inviting readers to think about how to celebrate in a commitment to anti-racism and intersectionality. We are centering the lives of BlackLGBTQ2SIA+1folx2, who continue to be catalysts for significant change in the LGBTQ2SIA+ movement.
In Solidarity with Black Lives: Centering Black Communities and Committing to Anti-Racism in our Lives
Terri-Lynn Langdon, Editor and Writer
Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else. – Maya Angelou
At the Innovation Hub we honor our commitment to design with and for students. This work intersects with a scope of communities, faculties, and voices to ensure that we can co-create a university that works for all. Recently the University of Toronto has addressed a commitment to anti-racism in solidarity with Black lives, communities, and spaces. Through conversations, protests, and movements we are experiencing a critical moment in time to end racialized violence. This is a centuries-long movement that must be joined, loved, and actively acknowledged.
In these conversations we have also recognized that it’s important to name racism and support anti-racist efforts. Compounded by the reality of COVID-19, many Black communities are disproportionately impacted by racism in education, health care, and law enforcement. These experiences are present in many spaces we are a part of – in Canada and beyond. We must continue to acknowledge and address by resisting these types of discrimination in the foundations of the work we do.
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.
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.
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.
Social and Cultural Community at First Nations House
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.
By Kaitlyn Corlett, Project Assistant and Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Projects Officer
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.