How can I make the changes I most want to see in the world?
This article has been updated from an earlier 2017 piece.
In direct response to the present moment of disruption in education, Concordia’s U.lab Hub is designed to create a multi-sector, intergenerational learning community focused on social innovation.
If you happen to walk into the Hub this fall on a Thursday morning, it will be hard to distinguish students enrolled in AHSC 498: Leadership, Change and Social Innovation, from faculty, staff and various members of community organizations working together. And that’s the point. Concordia’s u.lab creates an opportunity to engage in dialogue across boundaries that sometimes separate the community from the university, younger adults from older, and students from faculty. This ability for the Hub to cross boundaries is a core component of the learning experience.
Together, we explore questions such as:
- How can I help create the changes I most want to see in the world?
- What are the root sources of creativity and innovation and how can I tap into them?
- How can collaborative learning, organizing and leadership be harnessed to meet the social challenges of our times?
An educational innovation itself, the Concordia U.lab Hub is a learning experience that is ‘hosted’ rather than taught. All participants, including the host team, participate as co-learners in a 11-week process of social innovation learning. The platform that enables the community to form in this way is u.lab – a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) developed by Otto Scharmer and his team at the Presencing Institute. The course integrates social science, mindfulness and design thinking all in the service of civil society.
All hub participants register for the MOOC and complete the online course in their own time. Then, each week, Hub members gather to work with the material in-person. This “on-line to off-line” learning model helps leverage the best of technology, such as accessibility and a sense of global connection, with the human need to create connections in a community.
The process itself takes participants through three broad “movements”. First, they learn techniques for deep observation and understanding of both their immediate environments and the wider global context. Second, they engage in a period of mindfulness and reflection that allows them to fully integrate their observations and provide space for innovation and creativity to emerge. Finally, participants move into a period of action and prototyping. Throughout the process, there is an emphasis on developing our awareness of the place from which we operate when we perceive, think, act and communicate. This helps participants build their capacity to act with greater consciousness, effectiveness and awareness of the wider system.
The opportunity to engage in a powerful learning process within a diverse community servicing society makes the Concordia U.lab Hub an experience not to be missed!
Eva Pomeroy is Social Innovator in Residence at Concordia's Faculty of Arts and Science.