Can Innovation Be Equitable?

Headshot of smiling young woman with red hair and lipstickBy Tamsyn Riddle, Student Co-Lead, Access for Every Student Domain

When the word “innovation” comes up, it usually refers to technological changes that make life more convenient: computers, smart phones, driverless cars. In equity-related classes, we often talk about the inequalities between the people who can afford such new innovations and the majority of the world, and we criticize innovation for focusing too much on capitalist notions of efficiency.

As simple as a sticker or a longer walk


Headshot of smiling women with wavy blonde hair standing outside in front of a tree in a white shirt by Cristina Peter, Whole Student Development co-lead

Two of my favourite innovation stories come from industries that seem very different to our educational context, but can inspire some creative thinking on some of those shared values that we strive for: it’s all about good service and a great experience.

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?

Respect and Reciprocity

By Bonnie Jane Maracle, Integrated Learning Experience Team

Being a student at the University of Toronto means that this person has been deemed capable of doing the work required, meeting the challenges of the coursework, and achieving success in career goals they may have in their sights. A student in studies at U of T is to be congratulated on gaining entry, and others in upper years, they too need to be congratulated for their success in managing to hang in there, or as they say, “surviving the rigors of academia.” Students at U of T might soon learn, or in some cases, not learn soon enough, of all the support services available to them. This may include the services of a learning strategist, or their registrar, or an academic advisor, or even a TA. Available to students are also career planning and accessibility services. Ultimately, there is certainly a wide range of services and supports to assist students in getting through their coursework.

Are We Ready for the Future?

Headshots of two smiling young men with short black hair

By Vincent Tu and Ming Da (Tim) Li , Future-Ready Students Team


What does it take to help students gain a sense of preparation for their future? As part of the Future Ready Students domain, we embarked on our journey to listen to the voices of students who are preparing to enter the workforce. By doing so, we’re identifying common themes that echo throughout their stories, which will help inform us on what the University needs to foster future readiness for students.

We are undergraduate students ourselves, and many of our peers’ stories—with their dreams, distinctive life goals and concerns—deeply resonate with us.

Learning about Our Students from Those Working with Them

Headshot of smiling woman with shoulder-length blonde hairBy Denise Bentum, Organizational Learning Team Coordinator

By now you likely know that the Innovation Hub is talking to students in order to learn about their experiences at U of T. But did you know that we are also talking with staff and faculty to learn about their experiences working with students? This lesser-known aspect of the Innovation Hub is the work of the Organizational Learning team. Organizational learning refers to how knowledge is created, shared and preserved within an organization. We are trying to learn about how staff and faculty collaborate in order to share knowledge across divisions and how they collaborate in order to assist students.

What is Design Thinking?

What is Design Thinking?

By AlexHeadshot of woman with blonde curly hair in a blue dressandra Rodney, Student Innovation Leader, Operations Team

In September I introduced you to the Innovation Hub project and explained how we are working on developing innovative solutions to improve the student experience at the University of Toronto. In this post I’ll describe the method we are using to innovate. At the Innovation Hub we are using a “design thinking” approach. This approach has its roots at IDEO, David Kelley’s global design firm, where techniques used to design products were applied to the design of organizational operations and services. You may not have heard of IDEO but you’ve likely been in contact with their design innovations. Among other things that IDEO has patents on are the Apple mouse, laptop computer hinges, and the stand-up toothpaste bottle.

Ideating with the Innovation Hub: Share Back Days

Headshot of smiling woman with brown hair with blonde highlightsby Riley McCullough, Events and Admin Team Member

As a recent graduate from the University of Toronto, I know first hand how intimidating and confusing the school can be. While experiencing services and opportunities that are offered was one of the highlights of my time at school, navigating the student experience at the University of Toronto can easily be overwhelming.

That’s where the Innovation Hub comes in.

What is Access?


By Emma Beaulieu, Domain Team Member, Access for Every Student Domain

It’s a more complicated question than it sounds. I’m an occupational therapy student, and accessibility is a big part of my chosen profession. Occupational therapy is all about helping people do the things they need to do, want to do, or are expected to do, and for that you need access to resources. In the most basic sense, that can mean putting ramps outside buildings so people using wheelchairs can get inside, or making “handicapped” spaces in parking lots. But that’s far from enough. Being a student involves a lot more than physically getting to school.