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Social Innovation & Social Enterprises
At Ryerson, research and entrepreneurship are deployed to achieve both social and for-profit goals. As Canada’s first Ashoka Changemaker Campus, Ryerson students and faculty continue to challenge societal norms by creating initiatives, developing companies, and pursuing action to address the needs of diverse communities.
A variety of seed funds and grants were dispensed to nearly 40 students and faculty in 2015-16 to support social innovation. Eight students were awarded funding, alongside nine faculty members, courtesy of Ryerson’s Partnership for Change: The RBC Immigrant, Diversity and Inclusion Project. Fourteen students and eight faculty members also received RECODE at Ryerson awards from the university, with funding obtained from the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation for social innovation projects.
Ryerson professors Melanie Panitch and Kiaras Gharabaghi organized the inaugural social innovation conference for Ryerson’s Faculty of Community Services, called FCS in Action: The Refugee Crisis. The conference brought together students, faculty, and community members working in the areas of social innovation and refugee resettlement, in order to find new ways to act on one of the most complex community service challenges of our time. Through inclusive participation and ongoing discussion, the conference explored several pressing issues affecting refugees, including health and well being, nutrition, employment, education and housing.
Ryerson students Stefany Nieto and Benjamin Canning are working with a team that includes several other Ryerson students and graduates to help manage the project "Growing North," which is supported by the RECODE at Ryerson Project along with a number of other partners. The Growing North initiative is working to combat food insecurity in northern Canada. Recently, the team helped to establish a specially designed geodesic growing dome in Naujaat, Nunavut that will allow the community to grow its own food year round, thus reducing costs and increasing access to fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. The project has received media coverage from outlets that include the Toronto Star, CTV News and Yahoo! News, and it has expanded to work with additional northern communities.
Two graduates from Ryerson's documentary media program, Marc Serpa Francoeur and Robinder Uppal, received funding through theRBC Immigrant, Diversity and Inclusion Project, which they used to create "The World in Ten Blocks", an interactive documentary exploring Bloorcourt village, one of Toronto's most diverse neighbourhoods. The project has been featured by the Globe and Mail, on Bell Fibe TV, and has also been a part of the Hot Docs Festival. It has gained international attention as a potential model for how digital technologies can be used to build community.