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).
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.
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.
After our work last semester with the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health, we are thrilled to see their recently released Final Report and the accompanying Administrative Response. As readers may remember, our Mental Health team led eleven feedback sessions for the Task Force. Our six initial events invited students to discuss their mental health experiences and informed the draft themes. A further five events collected feedback on those themes.
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.
Continuing the View from the Insideseries, we reflect on early weeks of the Design Thinking Experience Program, in which we discussed participant interviews and transcription.
In this post, we hear from Max Yaghchi, Writer. Max is a PharmD candidate volunteering with the Innovation Hub.
In September and early October, the Innovation Hub team was trained in participant interviewing, interview transcription, and participant de-identification. We want to generate data that will help us improve the student experience, while protecting participants from potential repercussions due to their involvement.
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.
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 happens to all the interviews and data that the Innovation Hub collects? Over the past three years, over 450 students and staff have shared their experiences with our teams. We are honoured that so many were willing to entrust us with their stories and experiences, which helped us identify their needs, suggest and prototype services and supports, and contribute to substantive changes at U of T through over a dozen collaborative projects. The interviews and feedback we receive are the basis from which we advocate for change in all our collaborations, including the New College Dining Hall redesign, the Family Care Office projects, and the classroom redesign under the Transforming the Instructional Landscape Project.
“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.