Growing Changemakers with Social Innovation






Meeting urgent and complex challenges such as climate change, food security, and urbanization requires new knowledge, skills, and approaches. Social innovation is about finding ways to introduce lasting changes at all levels to increase the resilience of vulnerable people and the planet. Social innovators – people we like to refer to as changemakers – come from every sector and discipline, and they may or may not identify with the language of social innovation. What they do share is a commitment to taking on complex social, environmental, and/or cultural challenges to create meaningful change.

At Mount Royal University, we’ve been working in association with MacEwan University to develop a Social Innovation Certificate Program. We started by connecting with people from across sectors who are involved in the social innovation space as entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, funders, and scholars to ask their advice about what is needed in social innovation education in Alberta. Then we approached people who know a little something about social innovation to design the courses. Fabulous folks like Kate Letizia (Calgary Can, The City of Calgary’s Climate Program), Mark Cabaj (Here to There, Tamarack Institute) and Ben Weinlick (Think Jar Collective, Skills Society Action Lab) are sharing their expertise and wisdom as course designers.

One of the goals of the Social Innovation Certificate Program is to strengthen the growing network of changemakers in Alberta and beyond. Therefore, we’ve chosen a blended delivery model, which means that each course will have in-person and online components. The courses will be offered synchronously in Calgary and in Edmonton, so that we can connect people from the northern and southern parts of the province and offer opportunities for pan-provincial collaboration. Additional instructors will be joining the designers to deliver each of the four courses that make up the core of the program, and we have been inviting other inspiring changemakers to contribute their insight through video and in-person appearances during the courses.

The courses themselves are designed to provide a shared foundation for social innovation and then to dive more deeply into systems change, social impact, and the social lab space. Together, as learners, we will explore social innovation frameworks, resources, and tools to further change initiatives that learners are already involved in or are considering. We will study examples of successful social innovation and highlight current issues with this approach. We will take time for inward reflection and to form outward connections.

Have we got the formula right? We don’t know for certain – this is a learning journey for us, too. What we do know is that learners will develop a deeper understanding of themselves as changemakers, of the social innovation landscape – locally and further afield, and of tools and resources required to further their own work. Moreover, learners will connect with others who are also making meaningful change – those still exploring what their contribution may be and those whose contributions may have already created significant impact. We invite you to join us in January 2017 as part of the first Alberta-wide cohort of changemakers participating in the Mount Royal University & MacEwan University Social Innovation Certificate Program.

  • Guest blogger Jill Andres, Changemaker in Residence, Institute for Community Prosperity, Mount Royal University
  • A closer look at Mount Royal University and MacEwan University’s Social Innovation Certificate Program helps learners understand the program’s goals and approach, and assess its potential to further their own personal and professional social innovation objectives.
  • Register for our upcoming social innovations webinar


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The HR Advantage


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One of the advantages a Human Resources (HR) program has over any other is no matter where your career ends up you will always have to interact with people. The fundamentals and principles you learn through HR has the ability to make you a better employee, supervisor, manager, owner… heck, a better person.

Studying human resources you are exposed to gain a working knowledge of: Strategic Planning, Leadership/Management, HRIS HR Technology, Recruitment, Terminations, Administration, Metrics, Performance Management, Training and Development, On-Boarding and Orientation, Succession Planning, Exit Interviews, Mentoring, Health and Safety, Position Descriptions, Recognition Programs, Benefits, Disability Management, Conflict Resolution, Retention, Compensation, Policies and Procedures, Satisfaction Surveys/Culture Surveys… to name a few.

The majority of students are hung up on receiving a position that contain the words ‘Human Resources’ in their job title. But, the wonderful thing about studying and implementing ‘Human Resources’ is that you can do it in any position and at any level.


I make this point at the beginning of any course I instruct as approximately 50% of my students are professionals brushing up their education and 50% are wanting to get into HR with no previous experience. My advice is, regardless of your position, to start doing what you learn in class right now!


At the end of one of my class a student (let’s call her ‘Eve’) came up to me. This is how our conversation went.

Eve: I’m a waitress and I deal with customers all day, how am I supposed to practice HR with my customers?

Adam: Who screens your resumes, selects candidates, interviews and orients them?

Eve: My manager, and he does a terrible job. He is always busy so he just hires whoever.

Adam: Why don’t you offer to help screen some resumes so only the candidates you feel would be a good fit will be hired?

Eve: What? I don’t get paid for that!

Adam: You are missing the point, you have no experience, only a good educational foundation, if you don’t use it you’ll lose it, start applying what we are learning in class now and help out your manager. How else are you going to get practical experience?

Eve: … (stunned silence)

By the end of the course, Eve was screening resumes, interviewing candidates, training and onboarding. She became a better employee with her existing company and was gaining practical experience for her upcoming dream job in human resources.

Another advantage of an HR education is you get to learn the inside scoop on how people get hired. Getting a job in the current market can be very challenging. I have seen many students struggling with this and have created a web series to help. With informative topics like The Modern Resume, Interviewing, Networking and Accessing the Hidden Job Market, there’s a lot of important information you need to find your next job. You can access it here:

These are among the advantages an HR education has over any other program. You can essentially apply it anywhere, anytime, in any job. It’s up to you how to find the best way to use these skills to forward your career.


  • Guest Author Adam Czarnecki
Adam Czarnecki

Adam Czarnecki, CHRP is a member of the Senior Management team of a heavy duty truck dealership group in Alberta where he is responsible for HR, H&S and IT. He is a past HRIA Board Member and a HR instructor at the Mount Royal University.

The Money Whisperer – The Value of Independent Financial Advice


November is Financial Literacy Month. We are pleased to welcome guest blogger Randy McCord, instructor of MRU’s Investing in Real Estate course, to share his expertise on the importance financial planning.

How do you measure the value of advice? It’s one of life’s intangibles, but most of us seek it out before making important decisions. The best advice is meaningful and impactful, and as unique as the person receiving it.

And while some people think they can manage on their own and are satisfied with the results, they may not even be aware of the opportunities they’re missing. This is particularly true when it comes to financial security planning, where good advice can be worth its weight in gold.

That’s because receiving independent financial security advice is not just about having access to a wide variety of financial products. It’s about developing a relationship with a financial expert who will take the time to understand your financial situation, work with you to develop a plan to achieve your goals, and help you stay on track despite life’s twists and turns.

Many independent studies confirm that financial security advice gives you – the investor – a greater chance of:

  • Increasing your savings by maintaining a disciplined approach
  • Being better prepared for a comfortable retirement
  • Selecting the most tax-efficient investment strategies for all stages of your life
  • Successfully navigating unexpected financial or personal challenges

And despite what many people think, you do not need to be wealthy or established in your career to benefit. In fact, it’s never too soon, or too late, to work with an advisor. Some might even say you can’t afford not to.

Let’s look at some stats that back up these claims:

                                                              With Advice/Plan                  Without Advice/Plan

Annual Savings Rate                                        86%                                            43%

Have RRSPs                                                    84%                                            36%

Have TFSAs                                                     45%                                            20%

Feel they are better equipped for:

Financial Emergencies                                     60%                                             28%

Tough Economic Times                                    65%                                             36%

Ensuring Loved Ones are Looked After           73%                                             41%

Feel they are on Track Financially                    81%                                            44%

Take Annual Vacations                                     74%                                             44%

Live the Life they Want                                      61%                                             31%

Splurge                                                               65%                                             31%

Are on Track for Retirement                              50%                                             22%

As you can see, the value of financial security advice in these surveys is pretty conclusive. And although these surveys did not separate independent advice from proprietary advice (i.e,. a bank or investment company selling their own products) the advantages are still striking.

Most independent financial advisors are happy to provide complimentary reviews so it costs the investor nothing for a discovery meeting to see if there is a need and a fit with an advisor. Our advice is to seek out truly independent advisors who act as a broker for all the various products and services available. And interviewing a few different advisors only makes sense, just like shopping for a good lawyer or accountant. Make sure you and the advisor feel comfortable with each other before fully engaging their services.

There is value in planning and getting advice to assist in developing and maintaining your personal financial plan.

mccord— by Randy McCord, Executive Business Director, National Best Financial Network




You can learn more about financial planning with MRU’s Personal and Professional Financial Planning courses.

Business Owner Forging a Better Life

Jesse Messom - Bigfoot IndustrialHow do you measure success? For small business owner Jesse Messom, success means spending time with his family, running a profitable business and loving his job.
Bigfoot Industrial Services Ltd., which installs and services industrial equipment, came to life after Messom decided he could run a successful millwright and industrial mechanic business on his own.

Messom had the skills, the market and the drive to launch his company. But after being in business for nearly four years, he wanted to adopt an educated perspective on his existing business strategy.

“I knew that there was a way I could hone my business skills and run my business more successfully,” says Messom. In spring 2014, Messom completed the Entrepreneurship Certificate of Completion through MRU Continuing Education.

Judy McMillan-Evans, one of Messom’s entrepreneurship instructors, explains that approximately 25 per cent of students who sign up for the program are already entrepreneurs, and want to know what they can do to be more successful.

“It is a practical program. The intent is for a student to really examine their own business plan,” says McMillan-Evans.

This is a lesson that Messom has applied to his business, and it has helped him change the way he looks at his role in the company.

Messom recommends the Entrepreneur program to anyone considering starting his or her own business. “Absolutely do it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” he suggests.

Messom says the most valuable thing he has learned at MRU is that “You have to find ways to work on your business, not in your business.” A self-described perfectionist, Messom is working towards offering more autonomy to his staff so that he can focus on the bigger picture.

McMillan-Evans believes Messom has found success because “He has a creative mind, he is focused and he has fortitude.” Bigfoot Industrial Services Ltd. is growing, and now Messom has the tools to prepare for the future.

For Messom, the best part of being an entrepreneur is “being the boss”. Messom is the first to acknowledge that being president of your own company means long hours, hard work and sacrifices. The benefit is that it is all within your control. His long days in the office are a reflection of his commitment to attaining success, and he knows the future of his company will benefit from his dedication.

Most importantly, Messom loves his job. Having a passion for your work is something Messom explains is pivotal to success. “If you want to start your own business, expect that you’re going to put in long hours. So whatever it is that you’re doing, make sure you enjoy doing it.”

— by Johanna Franconeri

Holiday Party Planning Tips

IMG_0984By Kristen Ferguson, Catering Logistics Coordinator, Events and Conference Services

We’ve all done it! Lying in bed wide awake thinking “I never should have had that coffee at 3 p.m. today” and suddenly this amazing idea comes to you! “I’m going to throw a party. A great big cocktail party!” and before you know it you have pressed send on the invitation list. Most of us then realize that short and sweet initial list has turned into a great big organizational nightmare and sometimes as the day gets closer, we wonder “what the heck were we thinking!!!”

Here are some tips that will keep the planning fun and leave you actually enjoying the party instead of running around like a crazed party hating grinch.



Make very specific and easy RSVP requirements.
There will always be the last-minute responders, the no responders, the ones that say they’re coming then don’t show and the ones that show up with 10 of their closest friends. Sending out a reminder is also a great idea.

Keep it simple.
You don’t need 16 different kinds of beer or 4 vegan/gluten free/lactose free dishes “just in case”. If your guests have requirements, I promise you, they will tell you or they will come prepared. If you are having a buffet-style dinner, keep the protein options to 2 max. If you are having a cocktail party, 3-5 pieces per person is standard if your guests have already had dinner, 5-8 pieces per person if this party is considered “dinner”. Include trays of food in this average as well. Running out of food is a fear, but you will not run out using these guidelines

Keep in mind your fridge and oven space.
Sometimes the food and beverage that you would like to serve do not meet the fridge and stove space requirements. Try preparing a clean and organized space in your garage, if it’s cool.

Ask for help!
Request a dessert pot luck from your guests or delegate (bribe) your family members to pitch in.

Make a list.
Lists are great. The first item on your list should be to write a list so you have something to cross off right away. It feels good

This one is the MOST important………

Seriously. Let me break it down for you. You hire a server, they are generally $20 per hour. They serve the food, keep the house tidy, pour the drinks AND DO THE DISHES. This is standard practice, in fact the credo is to leave the place cleaner than when you found it. 3 hour minimum is $60. For less than $100 you get to participate in the fun of your own party and wake up the next day to a clean house *cue angels singing*!

Have fun out there party planners!

MRU Events and Conference Services host over 80,000 guests per year and would be happy to help you with your corporate holiday party.

MRU Shift Happened

By Elaine Ori and Courtney Wilson for MRU Shift

On a bright and sunny day in the grand ole city of Calgary, there was a spectacular social media conference hosted at MRU. We called it MRU Shift, but we don’t mind if you just call it plain fabulous. It was a congregation of great minds, with exceptional speakers of serious local talent.

The morning began with a keynote feature from Dr. Alex Bruton, a MRU faculty member and mind-blower extraordinaire. Also known as The Innographer, audiences were held captive during his memorable presentation on innovation, garnering week-long responses from the Twittersphere

Tyler Nagel ‏@tylerwsnagel
@theinnographer Loved your talk at #MRUshift – thanks!


Craig Nolin @CraigNolin ‏
@theinnographer great keynote speech at #MRUshift. Lots of great points.


Breakoutta the Box sessions ensued, with delegates having the chance to decide their fates. Both morning and afternoon breakouts hosted even more local talent including the likes of Buzz Bishop who’s still buzzing about his time with us!

The cool kids joined us over lunch for a race that is even More Amazing than what you can get on tv. It’s true. Twelve teams of delegates lined up to make their marks in a social media themed scavenger hunt race around MRU’s beautiful, interesting and contemporary campus. They raced, sang, became poets, told time, were scared by cougars and did their best to reach the finish line first. With some spectacular prizes, we crowned three teams the top winners and even got to award two honorable mentions. A job well won.

mru shift winners

After bellies had been satisfied thanks to YYC Food Trucks, an afternoon of discovery began. Some heavy hitters from ZGM opened up a purrrrfect afternoon keynote engaging audiences on the planning and execution of a good social media campaign. An onslaught of information, and a chance with ZEDS to practice some bad jokes rounded out an afternoon of super duper revelatory discussions.

From a Market Mall campaign where animals are all the fun, “@AllegedlyOld: Animals in the Mall? I thought the politically correct term was teenager #mrushift”, to some deep insights into where we need to step back and listen before we rush to the smart phone and tweet, delegates learned a thing or two. “@bonnaventure: There are more cell phones than tooth brushes in the world. #gross #mrushift.” Hey, we didn’t say everything would be useful.

In all, an extraordinary day was rounded out with a networking wine and cheese that provided a chance for speakers, delegates and of course the committee to put faces to handles. Toss in some astonishing door prizes (tequila tasting for four, anyone?) and a day’s worth of free candy (Sugar Cube has cost us all our girly figures), MRU Shift was an event for the history books, not soon forgotten. So if you joined us on that fateful day, we know you enjoyed every moment. The social media world is still abuzz. If you missed us this year, that’s really too bad but well… we had fun.

For more about the MRU Shift and other social media tips and inspiration, visit the MRU Shift Blog.