More and more, social justice organizers are having to plan and act within rapidly changing environments. Characterized by shaky funding, increasingly complex social issues, and a quickening pace of work, this environment asks a lot of those who work in the non-profit sector, leaving many grassroots leaders feeling overwhelmed (and with good reason!).
Finding ways to adapt to these new demands can be time-consuming and costly, which is why we are so excited to let you know about u.lab, a free MOOC (massive open on-line course) out of MIT, addressing questions of leadership for social change. The free course also includes a local “social innovation hub” that will bring together community organizers in Montreal to work through the u.lab material, exchange ideas, and develop leadership skills.
We caught up with u.lab hub organizer Dr. Eva Pomeroy to find out how COCo members could benefit from u.lab and the social innovation hub.
What is u.lab?
In 2015, MIT’s Sloan School of Management launched u.lab, an educational platform for leadership and change that integrates mindfulness and evolving consciousness into the process of social change. The intent is to enable profound, systemic and connected change in civil society.
The platform used to structure and support this process is that of a MOOC, a massive, open, on-line course. Although the course can be experienced individually, one of the major innovations of u.lab is that it encourages and supports a global network of “hubs”– or place-based, local communities of change.
So far, the u.lab MOOC has been tremendously successful. In the winter of 2015, 28,000 people registered for the ULab MOOC and, last fall, 40,000 people from 185 countries took part.
Why should busy social justice leaders participate?
I recently asked members of a professional network of which I am a part, “What makes u.lab so successful?” One colleague responded quite simply, “Because it works”. By “working”, I believe he meant the following: The u.lab process provides an accessible platform and effective, engaging process for social change. It does so by fostering a sense of interconnectedness between individuals, groups, environments and communities, both locally and globally. It puts mindfulness, contemplation and connection to source at the forefront of the change process. In doing so, the u.lab process fosters the capacities that are needed to meet the leadership challenges of our time.
What will the Social Innovation Hub look like?
Our vision for the Concordia University Social Innovation Hub is that it will be a place where the university community and the local community meet to engage in deep learning and co-creation in the service of the local community through a mindfulness-based process of change and innovation.
Toward this end, we have invited a wide range of individuals and organizations in the local community either presently working on, or interested in, social change to take part in the Hub. This experience aims to build capacity and spur innovation in a variety of community organizations, as well as build a new community of learners and social innovators. We plan to operate bilingually and to invite individuals from as many of Montreal’s diverse communities as possible in order to innovate together for our collective future.
Concordia’s Centre for Human Relations and Community Studies will be hosting the hub, and there is an information session on August 18th, from 10:00-12:00, District 3 Centre, Faubourg Tower, 6th Floor, 1250 rue Guy, Montreal, H3H 2L3. Space in the information session, as well as the the Social Innovation Hub, is limited.