Written by Terri-Lynn Langdon, Lead Writer and Editor
I am a wheelchair- using mother and a PhD student at OISE in Social Justice Education. When the lockdown in Toronto began we lost access to daycare and we also lost more than one support person (Nurturing Assistants) who felt that their own lives were too disrupted by the pandemic to continue to provide ongoing support to us. Without this direct support neither myself nor my child can shower safely, and I have no means of taking my twenty-one month old outside on my own. On top of which our building has been plagued with significant apartment maintenance issues all summer which has meant I have had to solve big family pandemic issues for 4 months and counting….
The cornerstone of our approach at the Innovation Hub is “students talking to other students.” We believe that peers relate to each other more openly and advocate for each other more strongly and that peer-based support both provides comfort and leads to change. This belief invigorates all our projects, including our upcoming partnership with the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health, in which we are leading student consultations to gather perspectives about mental health on campus. While I, as a staff member, am coordinating this project, students are co-leading the initiative with me.
How do students understand and navigate the University’s programs and services? How might students become active participants in the process that the Division of Student Life uses to design and redesign programs, services, resources, and spaces? What could meaningful student engagement look like in this process?
“What simple things could U of T do to be more family-friendly?” We asked this question at our participatory action event last month, in which we sought the voices of student parents and their solutions to the challenges they face at U of T.
Student parents are a growing group of students at the University of Toronto, and they face unique challenges that are invisible to those who do not share their experiences. These challenges create emotional and mental pressures which are exasperated by the limited support available for their practical needs.
To capture these challenges and the overall experiences of student parents at the university, the Innovation Hub partnered with the Family Care Office last year. Through that partnership, we showed that student parents are often unable to find a sense of belonging during their time at U of T. A sense of belonging is important for forming meaningful interpersonal connections, better coping with school and life challenges, and deriving comfort from the knowledge that one is not alone.
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 Michael Clark, Manager, UX at EASI and Innovation Hub Big Ideas Team Member – Student-Faculty Exploration Cafe
I initially heard about the Innovation Hub during a conversation with Julia Smeed. Through our conversation, I learned that the purpose of the Innovation Hub was to bring students, staff and faculty together in an effort to improve the “U of T Experience”. And, that’s where my involvement came in.
By Kevin Mak, Innovation Hub Big Ideas Team Member & Curriculum and Governance Assistant, Faculty of Arts & Science
What does the term “future readiness” mean to you? For one, it may be as simple as having strong technical competencies or a well-thought-out game plan to ace that interview or score that job with that sought-after employer. For another, it may be as complex as having the courage, resilience, and belief that they will succeed in everything that they do, knowing that when doors are shut on them others will open, notwithstanding their own disabilities and the world’s uncertainties. In an attempt to unpack this concept of “future readiness”, the Innovation Hub set up our team: the Future Readiness Team.
By Chelsea Kowalski, Innovation Hub Big Ideas Team Member & 4th Year English Student
Over the course of an undergraduate degree, the average student will spend four years here. I’m along that track right now. Four years of needs and wants, questions and curiosities, tricks and campus hacks. But I- like every student- have come to discover that four years is not enough to learn it all. There is always another resource, another group, another organization I never knew existed before that might have been helpful. This is where the UofT Concierge idea could make a difference.