DC’s Social Impact Hub leads the way with collaborative Collective Impact event

Durham College’s (DC) Social Impact Hub was pleased to host community partners, researchers, faculty and students at the Collective Impact: Shared Vision for Social Innovation event on Thursday, May 12. Held virtually, the event welcomed 127 attendees from across Durham Region and beyond, offering the chance to share social innovation research and partnerships at DC, identify challenges and opportunities for further collaboration and learn how to become involved in future initiatives.

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and carried out in partnership with the Regional Municipality of Durham and the City of Oshawa, the event featured a presentation from Kiersten Allore-Engel, manager of community safety and well-being, the Regional Municipality of Durham, and a panel discussion involving community partners. Moderated by DC professor and researcher Crystal Garvey, who also acted as the event’s Emcee, the panel addressed a variety of important social innovation topics, including:

  • Indigenous perspectives: Chief Emily Whetung, Curve Lake First Nation
  • Black Mental Health and Anti-racism: Allison Hector-Alexander, The Regional Municipality of Durham
  • Human Trafficking: Krista MacNeil, Victim Services of Durham Region
  • Access to Justice Hub: Laurie Marshall, Durham College
  • Inclusivity and self-advocacy in the workplace: Jesse Dick, DC Alumni
  • Housing and mental health: Doreen Hume McKenna, Lakeridge Health

“As a leading post-secondary institution and applied research centre, we are dedicated to fostering new relationships with our partners in order to develop actionable solutions to barriers faced right here in our community,” says Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “Durham College is proud to play a role in social innovation, and together with our community partners, we’re leading the way to a better world for all.”

Following the presentations, attendees joined break-out sessions to further discuss the challenges and explore socially innovative potential solutions that could be leveraged in areas such as mental health and homelessness, supporting people with disabilities and victims of crime, experiences of racism, truth and reconciliation and more.

Social innovation refers to a process, initiative or product that seeks to address a societal challenge by improving upon or redesigning the systems that make up our society. This type of work involves collective action through community partnerships, leading to valuable outcomes that benefit groups of people, not just the individual.

As DC’s fifth applied research centre, the Social Impact Hub launched in June 2021, and aims to leverage faculty expertise, student talent and strong community partnerships, to identify creative solutions to complex social challenges through leading-edge social innovation projects and initiatives.

Events like Collective Impact provide an inspiring and collaborative space for our researchers to create meaningful partnerships and synergistic ways to engage with service providers, community agencies and students to develop ideas that can lead to a better world for all members of society,” says Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Ongoing projects at DC in this area of research include:

  • Social Innovation in Applied Research: Mobilizing Knowledge and Co-designing a Path Forward
  • Raising Resilient Families: Empowering Parents with Cognitive Challenges
  • Building Bridges Together: Co-production of Financial Empowerment Strategies with People Experiencing Low Income
  • Innovation Through Co-production: A Holistic Approach to Supporting Social Competency in Pre-school Children
  • Enriching Firefighter Training Through the Development of a Novel Virtual Reality Training Simulation for Personalized, Precision Skill and Resilience Training

For more information on the Social Impact Hub, please visit www.durhamcollege.ca/socialimpacthub or to collaborate or contact the hub, please email socialimpacthub@durhamcollege.ca.

ORSIE provides support for applied research through access to funding opportunities, faculty expertise, state-of-the-art research facilities, and student learning experiences. In partnership with industry and community agencies, projects are carried out by DC faculty experts and students and administered by ORSIE. Since its inception in 2009, ORSIE has undertaken 438 research projects and initiatives. To connect with ORSIE, please reach out online.