Meet the Team 2021-22 Innovation Hub Team!

Betelehem outside smiling at the camera
Betelehem Gulilat, Content Writer

As we enter a brand-new term, the Innovation Hub is excited to welcome our Fall/Winter 2021-22 Team! Each year our team is expanding along with our growing number of partnerships and are pleased to continue designing with and for students at the University of Toronto. In support of our expansion, we are grateful to be transitioning to a new workspace on campus where we plan to follow a hybrid work model to provide flexibility & space for innovation.  

Delving into the Digital Campus: Birds of A Feather, Do Flock Together

Sanskriti smiling to the camera outside

By Sanskriti Maheshwari, Design Researcher

This blog post is part of Delving into the Digital Campus, a four-part series in collaboration with the Digital Community & Connectedness Project, aimed at understanding how students find and make connections in digital spaces. Each post is a written reflection from our Design Researchers, sharing how the insights from their project has resonated with them in their own lived experiences. 


Ever been told that opposites attract?

Through taking a course on Interpersonal Relationships, I uncovered something quite eye-opening. ‘Opposites attract’ is just a fantastical expression used to keep us invested in the romantic relationships and friendships that play out in front of our TV and movie screens. In reality, I have found that birds of a feather do in fact flock together. For example, in my own life I have observed that most of my closest friends have identical hobbies, personalities, political views, and so on. When meeting new individuals, any differences in interest or personalities can seem more pronounced than they really are. Possibly because a foundation built on a shared purpose hasn’t been established just yet.  This is also something I learnt from my experience conducting the Stories from a Distance Sessions and The Digital Community & Connectedness Project.  

Nurturing Student Creativity

By Betelehem Gulilat, Lead Editor & Writer

Betelehem outside smiling at the camera

What does it mean to be creative? At first thought, you may think of artists, designers, musicians as creatives, and indeed they are. However, being creative is more abstract than we imagined it to be. An entire field of creative studies exists that has dated back to the 1930s, simply dedicated to understanding the concept of creativity 1.  

In Honour of Black History Month: Shining A Light on Anti-Black Racism

A magnifying glass looking into a heart

As we approach the month of February, the Innovation Hub will be recognizing and honouring Black History Month, a period dedicated to celebrating the centuries of traditions, heritage and achievements made by African Diaspora across the world. This upcoming month, a new chapter of history will be added to this powerful novel, based upon the series of unfortunate events that transpired over the past year. The previously existing racial injustices and violence faced by Black communities were for the first time observed on a world-wide scale. But most importantly, what was clearly observed was the concern of not only the past and present, but the future to come.  

‘Silence ensures that history repeats itself’  

Erin Gruwell

Transforming the Instructional Landscape: Moving Towards Learner Centric Design in Times of Change

By Philippa Gosine, Senior Research Assistant

Philippa Gosine, Senior Researcher, smiling at the camera in the sunny outdoors.

Through our user-centered consultations, we’ve realized that learning spaces are extremely personal and important places for the people that use them. Instructors and students have a strong sense of ownership over their classrooms and want to see their individual needs and preferences in the design of learning spaces.  

Designing Virtual Spaces with Accessibility in Mind

By Betelehem Gulilat, Lead Writer & Editor and Philippa Gosine, Senior Research Assistant  

Betelehem outside smiling at the camera
Betelehem Gulilat
Philippa outdoors smiling at the camera
Philippa Gosine

Preserving a rich learning environment accessible for all students has been an ongoing commitment for many institutions. As faculties and administrators navigate the complexity of delivering courses online, it’s important for us to turn to our student community to understand the needs of students during this unprecedented time. Our work at the Innovation Hub is centered around students and their unique stories with the goal of designing a campus experience inclusive for all. We recognize the importance of prioritizing accessibility and hope to inspire our community members to develop equitable strategies for accommodating students in their online learning.   

Student & Youth Mental Health Research Initiative – The Student Advisory Committee

By Emma McCann – Engagement Lead & Kristin Cleverley – Chair, Student & Youth Mental Health Research Initiative

A headshot of Dr. Cleverley smiling to the camera wearing a dark blue blazer.
Dr. Kristin Cleverley

A headshot of Emma McCann smiling to the camera, wearing an olive green shirt.
Emma McCann

The Innovation Hub has been involved in a scope of conversations on mental health, wellness, and initiatives to support students. Most recently, our work with the Presidential & Provostial Taskforce on Student Mental Health shone a light on many needs in the community and has been a launch pad to important partnerships and initiatives to further support students at the University. We deeply understand how it’s so important to continue to highlight what is happening now in the community on student mental health and opportunities to be a part of these important conversations.

If you are a student and are passionate about improving campus mental health through collaborative research, we encourage reading this week’s special blog post on the Mental Health for Students & Youth Research Initiative!

*** Please note that the deadline to apply to this wonderful opportunity has been extended to January 11th, 2021! ***

‘Tell us about being a graduate student’ Call for Participation!

We’re excited to share a call for participation with our UofT graduate student community!

Banner illustrating various graduate student competencies

Graduate supervision and mentorship are the backbone of a graduate student’s experience at the University of Toronto. This is why the Innovation Hub, a student-led group which uses student-centric design to improve campus life, is looking for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to take part in virtual feedback sessions on their mentorship and supervision experiences.