Collaborations For Transformational Education

If you are seeking creative solutions to big problems, open to exploring and utilizing multiple and cross-cutting perspectives, and eager to develop the habits of thought and strategic skills necessary to make transformative change possible, this program was designed with you in mind.

As society becomes increasingly complex and interconnected, we must develop more sophisticated responses to pressing problems.

Organizations and individuals committed to finding effective solutions know that it is impossible to create this kind of transformation alone: new forms of engagement are required between organizations and across sectors; new knowledge must be created; and new roadmaps for action are needed.

The Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation, a partnership between leading academics at the University of Waterloo, expert practitioners from across the country, and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, will very intentionally engage professionals from different sectors.

Together they will learn about the concepts and theories that frame ideas related to social innovation and collaborate to apply new ideas to design strategies that address challenges.

Professional learning and process support, expert advisors, and access to some of the world’s leading educators and consultants are just a few of the unique features of this collaboration for social innovation education. 

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Seeing Systems

In a world that is by definition unpredictable and uncontrollable, those seeking to transform or build adaptive capacity in complex problem domains need to anticipate emergence, facilitate innovation, catalyzing scaling and evaluate progress. Understanding resilience theory and resilience thinking provides useful frameworks and tools for understanding how to engage complexity in the interests of social innovation.  

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Designing Systems

Examining system change through a design lens. The principles of design thinking can offer a way of understanding how alternative or shadow systems or innovation niches may be “designed” as alternatives to the dominant and problem domain. Social innovation labs are a new approach to whole system convening, designed to facilitate seeing complex problems as multi-scale and multi system, prototyping solutions (from improvisations to simulations to experiments).  

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System Skills

Several skills are required to participate in complex problem solving in collaborative team settings. Strategies for managing team diversity, and skills sets, application of the generative STAR tool, and self-diagnosis exercises will be used to strengthen participant engagement in team environments. Skills for listening, conflict management, and negotiation will also be shared.  

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Catalyzing System Transformation

In order to make social innovations “part of the water supply” we will need to see a change in the way broad resources flow, the cultural understandings and definitions of the problem and a shift in the laws and policies that govern the problem domain. The role of an institutional entrepreneur requires particular lenses and skills in order to influence public policy. Institutional entrepreneurs must also understand both the processes and structures that have created the conditions for social innovation to flourish.  

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Social Innovation Strategy

Small project teams form as generative collaborations to address questions related to innovation needed within specific problem domains and the social systems in which they are imbedded. The project is focused upon teams developing a strategy with potential for broad system change. The project requires team members to identify innovations or clusters of innovation present in the system(s) and design, develop and test ideas for strategy(ies) to connect/enhance current or emerging innovations in order for these to have impact across scales in the dominant system.  

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