Social Innovation and Knowledge Mobility

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The afternoon brought a connection between social innovation and ecology — Frances Westley from the University of Waterloo talked about social and ecological resilience –and evoked the work of Buzz Holling, the famous UBC ecologist (even tho’ he left us awhile ago for southern climes).

Frances is the JW McConnell Chair in Social Innovation — she is heading up a Canada-wide initiative in social innovation, SiG (Social Innovation Generation), a cross-sectoral partnership to build capacity for social innovation in Canada funded by the J.W McConnell Family Foundation, University of Waterloo and the Ontario government.  She is a scholar in the area of social innovation — her most recent book  Getting to Maybe (Random House, 2006) focuses the dynamics of social innovation, and institutional entrepreneurship in complex adaptive systems.

Her presentation gave us a theoretical framework for understanding the engagement of vulnerable populations, building linked socio-ecological resilience and building capacity for social innovation.  Relevant for the “Resilient Cities” conferences coming up October 20 (

On Saturday morning we finished up with an Open Space session with groups tackling topics such as:

1.  How can we have broader investment in social innovation across Canada?

2.  The idea of a Canadian Drug Policy Consortium.

3.  How do we engage the broader community in social innovation?

4.  What should the research agenda be around social innovation?

5.   How do we tell the community story around the 2010 Olympics?

6.  How do we accelerate knowledge mobility around social innovation — and take action?

and others that I seem not to have noted!

In group 6 we actually ended up talking a lot about the idea of “social patents” — we even bought (for $14) the domain name  And we started a blog at:  Desperate to take action and find some new ways to mobilize knowledge — to get it out of our institutions into the community.

Thanks again to Tom and Graham.  As usual, workshops like this provide good time for reflection and learning.  Can’t have enough of that.

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