Note: The Waterloo Institute for Complexity & Innovation (WICI) website can be found here.
On March 5th and 6th, SiG and WICI co-hosted an international, multi-disciplinary group for a symposium to explore the theories and concepts of social innovation. Along with a strong contingent from Waterloo, people came from as far afield as Australia, Sweden and the UK.
Concepts like complexity, governance, adaptability, resilience, scales, even the term innovation itself is used in different ways and has different meanings, particularly by people working in different disciplines or sectors. One of the goals of this conference was to find ways to bridge the gaps that exist between academic disciplines. The participants' ideas were, as one of them described it, like manifolds, sometimes sliding past each other, sometimes bumping up against each other and at other times moving in synergy.
As someone working to support social innovation it was a fantastic conversation to observe. My key takeaway was a reminder, if ever it was needed, that social innovation is a process; that the successes we hear about are often only a snapshot of a whole constellation of ideas, programs and efforts that were deemed much less successful.
A report on the symposium will be released in the coming weeks, and SiG will be exploring ways to support research projects and possible collaborations that emerged. Watch this space for more details.