We live in a volatile, uncertain and complex world. With threats such as climate change, social unrest, and resource scarcity, the next generation of leaders must adapt and learn to play new roles.
Universities and colleges are uniquely positioned to build the next generation’s capacity to impact positive change. Supporting students in understanding current social and environmental challenges, and working with them to experiment with innovative tools and approaches is essential to accelerating this new way forward. Fundamental shifts to the post-secondary sector — bringing community to the table, engaging across institutional boundaries — are paramount to enhancing the wellbeing of the communities we all share.
21st Century Education for Community Wellbeing
Responding to 21st century social challenges, requires an education fit for our times – one that’s rooted in new ways of thinking, doing and learning. There is a transformation afoot, with schools having bold visions for change. They are becoming vital social innovation hubs for surrounding industries and communities.
As a funder, capacity builder and convener, RECODE supports the capacity of schools to weave social innovation tools and practices into the very fabric of campus and community culture. To be successful, deep collaboration that spans organizations, institutions, disciplines and worldviews is a must. Through working groups and national gatherings, we bring together individuals to learn from each other and amplify their impact.
With these efforts, we hope to see broader funding and policy changes in post-secondary education, a “recoded” student experience fit for our times, and the transformation of campuses into pillars of their communities.
Research and teaching have been at the heart of the post-secondary system for the last 600 years. More recently, universities and colleges have become increasingly active in building a resilient, just and sustainable world by infusing social innovation practices into campus culture. At the same time, students are demanding an education that supports them in making a meaningful difference in the world.
Through funding and convening, RECODE supports schools in mapping and broadly sharing with them the current landscape of social innovation tools (change labsChange labs take a systems approach to problem-solving, convening diverse teams to experiment with alternative solutions to real-world challenges., experiential education programsExperiential education programs: educators connect students' in-class learning with hands-on, real-world experiences to increase their skills, knowledge and capacity to contribute to their community., incubatorsIncubator: program or initiative providing financial, technical and/or coaching support to help nurture and grow young businesses. and acceleratorsAccelerator: an organization that offers start-up enterprises a range of support and funding opportunities, typically through intensive short-term programs., social innovation curriculum, and change competitions). Our aim is to help foster relationships between social innovation trail blazers, influencers, administrators, faculty, and policy makers in order to increase the early adoption of social innovation practices across the post-secondary sector.
Equipping students with the collaborative skills, systems perspective, mindfulness, social innovation experience and networks to address social challenges is critical. Student values are shifting. More and more young people are looking for educational experiences and careers that provide them with the opportunity to make a difference and contribute to society. There is a strong demand for work-integrated learning that includes community service learning, social entrepreneurship and international experiences.
RECODE supports schools in providing opportunities for students to learn about — and experiment with —social innovation and entrepreneurship. This is facilitated through experiential, cross-curricular and multi-disciplinary learning on campus, as well as online learning platforms, student clubs, conferences and competitions, exchanges and events.
Post-secondary schools have taken up the challenge to address Canada’s most critical problems by better using school resources (financial assets, human capital, and capacities for knowledge creation and mobilization) to positively impact communities. This is an emergent field of practice, with many centres, institutes, and departments established over the past few years. Yet, they remain largely disconnected.
The challenge for schools is to formalize and sustain these initiatives. They need to share and recognize their achievements, break down siloed activity, and connect initiatives more deeply within their institution. By supporting schools to consolidate, scale and share best practices, RECODE hopes to see increased community partnerships and relationships across the post-secondary sector that result in enhanced community wellbeing.
How We Support Change
Recent Grants & Investments
British CouncilSupport from the Foundation will help the British Council increase the number of student placements, design more tailored experiences for students participating in social enterprise program, and build a programmatic model that supports financial sustainability.
Wilfrid Laurier UniversityRECODE funding to support the development of on campus social innovation and social entrepreneurship initiatives and activities.
University of British ColumbiaRECODE funding to support the development of on campus social innovation and social entrepreneurship initiatives and activities.
Impact & Lessons Learned
Maximizing the Capacities of Advanced Education Institutions to Build Social Infrastructure for Canadian Communities
Building Social Infrastructure: How can we increase the impact of our institutions to better strengthen our communities?Learn More