The core goal of the institute is to generate new inter-disciplinary knowledge about social innovations and the social innovation process (the dynamics of learning, adaptation and resilience) in Canada and internationally. 

The Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation (WISIR) researchers are focused on four related research areas, cross-scale transformations in complex systems, indigenous innovations, new theories and methods in social innovations, and inner transformations in pursuing this goal.

Indigenous Innovations

How are the processes of social innovation altered in an Indigenous context?

How do you promote sustainability in a context of unsustainable economic activity?

Is there common ground between social innovation and critical indigents methodologies?

Neon blue lightbulb on a dark blue background

Cross-scale Transformations in Complex Systems

What are the tensions involved in trying to maintain complex societies while changing the underlying structure of the modern capitalist economy?

How can we transition towards more sustainable ways of being?

Upside down prism showing blue sky and white clouds set before a background of grey cloudy sky and sea

New Theories and Methods in Social Innovations

Continuing the work of SiG (Social Innovation Generation), how can we build theory and capacity around social innovation and effective transdisciplinary methodologies?

artistic drawing of a face and what look like neural networks above a city skyline

Inner Transformations

How might people cultivate affective, cognitive, and relational skills to cope with the discomfort of moving beyond unconscious normalcy and embrace uncertainty, chaos, and paradox as precursors for transformative change?

What are the skills, competencies, and capacities needed to navigate complexity?

How might interventions for inner work support psycho-social transformations?