Celeste Ferrus

Emily is an undergraduate student in the Department of Communication Studies, with a minor in human relations. She is one of ten Experiential Learning Grant recipients in 2019. She used the grant to build a student-staff mentorship program called Connect Concordia, and to create promotional content for The Concordia U.lab Social Innovation Hub, an experiential learning course.

"In the Fall of 2018, I took part in Concordia’s u.lab Hub (AHSC 498, Leadership, Change and Social Innovation) as a student. This amazing, hands-on course allows for students and community members to interact and learn from each other."

The Concordia U.lab Social Innovation Hub is a diverse learning community of students, educators, and members of the local community who gather throughout the fall semester to embody a bold vision of next-gen education. The participants bring their own projects into the hub, and this becomes the focus for the course, with the goal of societal transformation. The course itself is a MOOC (massive open online course) where hub members work with the online material at their own pace before meeting face-to-face. The course also integrates social science, mindfullness, and design thinking.

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"Not only did this class introduce me to what experiential learning looks like in an academic setting, but it allowed me to develop an idea for a student-staff mentorship program called Connect Concordia. I participated in the u.lab2x as an independent study course to prototype and continue building the project that myself and two other students, Maria Stawnichy and Anne-Marie Mulumba, worked on with the support and supervision of the Social Innovator in Residence, Eva Pomeroy and the Dean of Students, Andrew Woodall. Now in my second year, I have piloted Connect Concordia and I'm continuing to grow it within the university."

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Connect Concordia aims to stimulate personal and professional development for both staff members and students through a mentorship program that:

  • Helps students gain insight into different jobs and fields, while doing hands on work that helps them develop their workplace literacy and employability.
  • Provides staff with the opportunity to gain insight into the student experience and feedback about their services.
  • Opens a generative and mutually beneficial dialogue between students and staff, allowing a mostly stable staff body to connect with the ever-changing student body, helping the system to ‘see itself’ more clearly and cultivating a more connected community.

Eva Pomeroy, Social Innovator in Residence at u.lab says she's been so impressed by the work of Emily and her peers. " They saw a need and ’stayed with’ it, forming collaborative working relationships with faculty, staff and students that would help them to move from idea to viable project. The course and subsequent independent study helped give structure to their initial exploration and later project development. In the latter, we were genuinely co-creating the educational experience. The result was deep learning with real impact. The experience has had a profound impact on my own thinking about what higher education can and needs to be."

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In the Fall of 2019, Emily participated in the Concordia u.lab Hub as a part of the Hub Host Team alongside Annick Davignon, Mark Underwood and Eva Pomeroy. Her mandate was to lead social media and communications for the Hub, as well as create promotional materials for following years. As part of this, Emily will lead the creation of a new video for the Hub.

"Going into this opportunity, I knew that I would develop time management skills and the knowledge needed to build a social media strategy. I quickly learned that within the social innovation sector, social media and various other platforms are used in different ways. Namely, in order to promote and market an initiative like u.lab, you need to tell a story. Not necessarily your story, but the story of a collective. It isn’t easy to capture the essence of change or emergence, in fact I’d say it’s almost impossible. But I know that I was changed by trying. Being a part of the Host Team, I had the unique opportunity as an undergraduate student to participate in a platform for connection and social change. I watched my incredible team members facilitate the merging of students and community members. Together, a space was created where learning happened freely and openly. Having now finished the experience again, I go about my academic courses and life listening on deeper levels, gathering perspectives without judgement and creating community wherever I go."


Learn more about the Concordia U.lab Social Innovation Hub.

Connect Concordia is now being supported by the Sustainability Action Fund, CCSL, Small Grants, the Student Success Centre, Office of the Dean of Students, and a partnership with the Faculty of Arts and Science.

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