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Design for Change – A better campus for all

Recently I attended a mini-conference called Design for Change for Woodsworth College. Students from first years to final years gathered to have round-table discussions on creating a healthier Woodsworth environment. In this particular context, health is not merely just physical health. It is related to mental health, sense of community, and the ability to flourish.

For the duration of the conference, we focused on problem definition rather than problem solving. It is easy to come up with solutions to isolated problems, but to bring about long-lasting change on the structural level, a wide variety of perspectives involving all Woodsworth student experiences has to be considered. Some of the emergent problem statements were:

What does it mean to be โ€œinvolvedโ€ in Woodsworth?
Does Woodsworth need to change how they provide resources?
How do Woodsworth students connect to each other?
Do we need dedicated physical spaces for social bonding?
Who is responsible for inclusion? For equity? Diversity?

We split off into groups to have focused discussion on one particular topic such as inclusion and diversity, community building, physical spaces, or teaching and learning. During the discussions, each group had a person handling โ€œlive-tweetingโ€ on Twitter to capture ideas and moments in the discussion. These tweets were then compiled and provided to an artist who draw a collage of illustrations live based on the tweets, shown here.

A collage of illustrations based on the live tweets of Design for Change discussions.

When you think about how your own college can be healthier, what comes up in your mind? Is Woodsworth different than your college? Are there things Woodsworth or your college particularly excel at, and are there things that are lacking? If we all can pinpoint the right questions to ask, then we just may be able to make our whole UofT campus better than it already is.