Speaker: Sean Geobey
You are somewhere. As much as a university can feel like a bubble – your corner of it even more so – you are part of a bigger world. You are also in a place where the most cutting edge ideas in that world are being developed, though it often feels like those ideas rarely move outside Ring Road. However, that bigger world is a place that needs your ideas and needs different perspectives to help solve its most intractable problems.
In my talk we’ll be spending a bit of time looking at one set of tools we’ve been developing at the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR) called the “Social Innovation Lab”. We are still experimenting with it internationally, nationally and locally, but overall the idea is to bring together researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds, stakeholders from different organizations and sectors, and the people who are impacted by complex social-ecological challenges to identify leverage points for system change and develop interventions.
These Social Innovation Labs are a way of bringing many different types of knowledge together around a “Wicked Problem” rather than abstract principles and there seem to be some real strengths in doing so.
Additionally, I’ll speak a bit to some of my experiences as a student who was quite active on campus and what I learned in the application of coursework to extracurricular activity. I believe there are some lessons I picked up that will be useful to you as you are just beginning your life here at the University of Waterloo. What you do today can have a great impact on the world and you already have incredible resources at your disposal to make that impact happen.
As for me, I am an Assistant Professor in Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation at the University of Waterloo in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED). I apply this work to labs, social finance and to alternative governance models such as co-operatives and participatory budgeting. Overall I seek to develop and provide the tools needed to align our social, ecological and economic systems in ways that will allow us to create and transition towards a more sustainable future.
In conducting my teaching and research I work with a number of research-intensive organizations inside and outside the academy including the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR), the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, the MaRS Solutions Lab and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. He has also played key roles in establishing a number of community groups including the Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group and Sustainable Waterloo Region, as well as engaging in national advocacy efforts tied to youth unemployment, electoral reform and the establishment of a basic income.
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