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Students to tackle social issues in new lab

The Centre for Social Impact is unveiling a new Collective Impact Launchpad, which will bring together students, faculty, staff and the Kingston community with the goal of identifying and exploring new social innovation initiatives.

[Social Innovation]
Ara Dungca (Com’16), Kirsten MacMillan (Sci’17), Adam Beaudoin (Kin’15), John Sibbald (Com’18) and George Henry (EMBA’16) participate in the Social Innovation Bootcamp Pitch Competition hosted by the Centre for Social Impact in March 2015. Students will have  more opportunities to explore social innovation initiatives this fall through the centre's Community Solutions Lab. (University Communications file photo)

The Collective Impact Launchpad will soon embark on its first initiative, the Community Solutions Lab (CSL), giving Queen’s students another venue to make a difference in the local community.

The CSL will deploy multi-disciplinary teams of students to examine complex problems faced by community organizations. The teams will use a social innovation lab approach with people from diverse backgrounds collaborating to develop solutions and quickly determine their applicability in the real world.

“This initiative fits well with the guiding principle of ‘doing better together,’” says Tina Dacin, Director, Centre for Social Impact. “The goal of the lab is to create opportunities for student teams to design and test action-based solutions that community stakeholders can implement.”

Community organizations in the Kingston area can submit issues or problem statements by email to the Centre for Social Impact. For each selected issue, the centre will assemble an impact team from across faculties, schools and departments. The multi-disciplinary team will hold a series of workshops with the community stakeholder to develop a set of prototype solutions for issues raised by the community organization.

“The Community Solutions Lab will allow students to apply what they learn in the classroom while community organizations walk away with a set of action-based solutions and recommendations. It’s really a win-win proposition for everyone involved,” Dr. Dacin says.

The Centre for Social Impact will offer CSL as an extracurricular activity during the pilot phase. The centre is examining opportunities for incorporating the CSL into the curriculum. Each project is expected to take students at least a term to complete, if not longer depending on the issue and process.

The centre has already started engaging community organizations to encourage their involvement in the social innovation lab. The first cohort of CSL is expected to commence this fall.

If you would like more information or want to get involved, contact Catherine McGill, Program Coordinator (Research and Curriculum), by email.

The Queen’s School of Business Centre for Social Impact was established in 2004 with a mission to educate students and foster outreach, research and advocacy on issues impacting our local and global communities. Every year. the centre presents and supports a wide range of programming for students, staff, faculty and members of the Queen’s community to learn more about the processes and practices that drive social impact – including the business practice of responsible leadership and, more recently, social innovation, which refers to an innovative product, process or program that profoundly and positively changes a social system and is widely recognized a key driver of solutions to such complex issues. For more information please contact the centre at csi@queensu.ca.