New Beginnings with a New Summer Team at the Innovation Hub!

Headshot of smiling young woman with shoulder-length blonde hair in black shirtBy: Michelle Johnstone, Knowledge Management Team, first year Masters of Information student.

Last Wednesday, the Innovation Hub Summer Student Team met for the first time. It was the first (truly) nice day of spring, and we got right down to business and took each other on a “reverse campus tour,” in which each of us showed our new team members a spot on campus that was meaningful to us.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Headshot of smiling woman with blonde hair in red topBy Heather Kelly, Senior Director at Student Success in the Division of Student Life at University of Toronto (St.George)

As the first year of the Innovation Hub wraps up, I have the opportunity to reflect on what worked and what we’ve learned along the way.  

The Innovation Hub was inspired by a conference “Leading Innovation and Change in Student Affairs”, that David Newman and I attended in 2015. We were energized by the AVP from Seattle University, Michele Murray, who spoke about the need to bring together a more diverse crew of creative minds from across campus and put them to work on improving the student experience.

Warrior Within – Innovating Mental Health Curriculum

Smiling woman with long blonde hair in olive green top and denim jeans

Guest Post by: Catherine Wachter, Guidance Counselor at University of Toronto Schools

The Innovation Hub envisions a seamless student experience, one where students feel well prepared for their future academically and personally. Unfortunately, poor mental health is an overwhelming barrier to student success. Students report feeling stressed and anxious about school work, and often struggle to find a healthy balance between academics and their personal life. 

Warrior Within ( is a project that centres around the creation of a fictional short film (shot in July, 2016) that uses metaphor and imagery to help engage students in their understanding of stress, anxiety and resilience. This film has inspired a student-created curriculum that will be an open source resource for educators. 

Work Opportunities at the Innovation Hub This Summer!

Headshot of smiling young woman with light brown hair in blue and white blouseBy: Margaryta Ignatenko, Student Co-Leader, Communications and Events Team

Working at the Innovation Hub has been one of the highlights of my academic school year! I am pleased to share that the opportunity to be part of the Innovation Hub’s next phase is here. There are 7 new work study positions for the summer term. These positions fill 4 roles that will be essential for supporting the work of the Hub moving forward. The jobs are briefly described here and full descriptions can be found in the Career Learning Network by searching for the following job numbers:

Innovation at the Impact Centre

Headshot of smiling man with short red hair, moustache, and stubble in grey blazer and light blue shirtGuest Post by: Scott McAuley, Communications Coordinator at UofT’s Impact Centre 

The desire to enable innovation is all around us. From university campuses to corporate headquarters to government chambers, new programs are springing up that are designed to help bring ideas into reality, and reality into practice. The University of Toronto is no different. The University has always been an innovator, from the isolation of insulin to creating the pacemaker, but today’s technologies and markets provide new opportunities that require a new way of thinking.

The Impact Centre is a research institute at the University of Toronto that is dedicated to bringing science to society. We create and deliver events, programs and courses that are all designed to introduce students to innovation and entrepreneurship as well as give them the support they need to make those dreams a reality.

Some recent and upcoming programs:

Innovation And Public Policy

Smiling young man in blue dress shirt and tie in front of Parliament Hill  Guest Post by: Jonathan Kates, Master of Public Policy Student

As a graduate student at UofT’s School of Public Policy & Governance and an executive member of the student-led Policy and Innovation Initiative, the Innovation Hub’s human-centered design focus overlaps with my own interest in innovative policy design. The way policy is designed at the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government offers opportunities for or constraints to innovation. This is largely due to the fact that unlike businesses in the private sector who dream up a brilliant new product, governments rarely enjoy a first-mover advantage. That is, one of the main ways of selling policies to the public is by talking about a successful application of this policy somewhere else. “It worked well in the U.K.!”; “If Montreal can do it, so can Toronto!” The thing about policy is that it can be context-specific, so sometimes what worked in the United Kingdom or Quebec may not be what’s right for Canada or Ontario.  But does that mean we shouldn’t at least try and find out?

The Innovation Hub at Civic Tech Toronto

Headshot of smiling young woman with shoulder-length light brown hair in blue and white blouse

By: Margaryta Ignatenko, Student Co-Leader, Communications and Events Team

On March 7th, Ali Rodney, Julia Smeed and Tamsyn Riddle presented the Hub’s key insights and design process to a room full of energetic, inspired and innovative folks who are part of Civic Tech Toronto.  Civic Tech Toronto hosts weekly “hacknights” which allow anyone with a project to collaborate and create with fellow community members. Participants worked on projects ranging from creating a WebCrawler to identify hate speech in Canada to creating a multimedia campaign that raises awareness of racial profiling and carding to a take down of fake news project (among others!)Civic Tech Toronto LogoJulia Smeed talking at podium Office spaceAli Rodney speaking at podium

Join us at the next Innovation Hour!

The Innovation Hub has been talking to students about their experiences at the University.  We’ve also met with a number of faculty and staff to discuss their perceptions and insights about student experiences.  We need your insights.  Innovation Hub teams have crafted project ideas to help the University meet student needs. We would like to invite staff, students, and faculty to our upcoming Innovation Hours to learn about some of our ideas and provide insight and feedback.  We hope to see you there!

Transfer Student “Tasha”

Headshot of bearded man with short dark brown hair  By Elvis Ibrahimovic, Fostering Connectedness Team Member

There is nothing more exciting than talking with students!  Almost as exciting, was spending a morning speaking with colleagues, students, and other stakeholders about students!  As someone who professionally identifies as ‘student-centred’, it was a thrill to focus in on a student (persona) during our Share back sessions. Personas are based on and represent real people, however all identifying information such as their real name and program of study are sanitized to protect their identity.

What will the University of Toronto look like in 100 years?

Headshot of smiling man with glasses and very short black hairBy Keita Demming, Executive Director of The Agency, UofT Alum, Social Entrepreneur & Innovation Hub Ambassador

Usain Bolt is the fastest man on earth, and as he ages he will inevitably lose that status. The opposite can be true for the University of Toronto. As time passes, it is easier for the University to maintain its position as one of the leading universities in the world. We have the resources, experience and expertise. Unfortunately, it is also just as easy to become complacent.

How does the University ensure that in 100 years, it will still be one of the leading universities in the world?