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