Monthly Archives

October 2015

Experiential Learning: Motivation, Personal Growth, and Teamwork

By | Change Lab, RADIUS Edu | No Comments

Dorothy Ng - WL BioChange Lab student Dorothy Ng is a third year student studying Political Science and Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Simon Fraser University who likes to read plot summaries on Wikipedia before watching movies. Some items on her bucket list include giving a TEDx talk, going bungee jumping, building a business, and eating a steak with her hands.  She can usually be found looking for the “homiest” coffee shops around town, strolling along the Seawall, or napping on transit.

As a third year student, I’ve enrolled in a variety of classes from different disciplines, each with their own perks and quirks. However, I’ve noticed that from Political Science to Statistics, the courses are structured in a similar manner: you go to class, submit assignments, write an exam or two, and get a grade based on that. You put in a fair amount of effort so you can get a good grade, regardless of whether or not you are interested in the class. Instead of keeping up with your readings throughout the term, you cram two days before the midterm and five days before the final. Why is this the case? Can it be changed?

I never noticed how disengaged I was in some of my classes until I enrolled in Change Lab in Fall 2015 and compared the two experiences. Change Lab is an all-day studio course that fuses environmental sustainability and innovation that challenges you to design a venture within four months. This is an experiential learning experience and, believe me, it is so different from the traditional classroom experience.

Let me tell you why. Read More

Apply now: Student Social Innovation Seed Fund Launches 2015-6 Cycle

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Good news! RADIUS and Embark have partnered for a second year to offer the SFU Student Social Innovation Seed Funding to current undergraduate and graduate students. The SFU Student Social Innovation Seed Fund supports radical change endeavours with social and environmental impact at their core by providing amounts of $200 to $1,000 to successful student and student group applicants. Social innovation projects can be initiatives, ventures, products, programs or processes that attempt to positively transform SFU and its broader communities. Past projects include Slow Streets, an observational research initiative that documents the effects of having one form of transportation dominate a city, and As We Are, an online style community featuring people navigating health conditions.  

Get started on your application today! Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, beginning October 7th, 2015 and closing May 2016 or when funding runs out, whichever comes first. Applicants can expect to hear back within 6 weeks of their application submission.

Not sure the SFU Student Social Innovation Seed Fund is a good fit for your idea? Check out Embark Sustainability’s Community Grant, now accepting applications until November 2nd, 2015. This fund offers up to $500 of support to student-led sustainability projects that engage diverse groups of people on issues of social, economic and environmental sustainability.

SFU Change Lab: A Community of Students Committed to Creating Sustainable Change

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By Change Lab student Amar Badh

Change is inevitable. Whether good or bad, our lives and the world around us is constantly changing. In fact, you are a different person now than you were when you began reading this sentence. This blog is about change, and in particular how a team of students at SFU are in the midst of making a positive change that has the potential to alter Vancouver’s landscape on a local and global scale! That’s what the Change Lab is all about. So what exactly is Change Lab? And how has the experience been? Since I’m all about making connections, I will gladly answer these two questions so that you can feel connected to some of the changes that are occurring in Vancouver.

What is Change Lab?

Change Lab is an innovative course offered at SFU where students from different faculties join forces to tackle some of the toughest problems facing our city. Taught by Shawn Smith and Heather O’Hara, the Change Lab is about experimentation and engaging our curiosity to try to solve problems in a sustainable and agile way. This semester we are working with the City of Vancouver, the Greenest City Action Plan team, the Vancouver Economic Commission, City Studio and the False Creek Planning Committee to help make the False Creek Flats the, “[G]reenest place to work in the world.”

Change Lab Retreat: Camp Alexandra, Crescent Beach, Surrey

With a warm Tim’s steep tea in my hands, excitement fuelling my steps and curiosity accompanying my thoughts I enter the open grass courtyard of Camp Alexandra. The objective of this retreat was to better understand ourselves and our peers. One only needs to hear a few of the words that people used to describe their weekend to grasp the effectiveness and impact this weekend had on us as a team. Words like, “friendship,” “explorationIMG_20150912_210751,” “self-expression,” “self-discovery,” “team” and “community” were just a few of the common words used to describe this weekend. Kudos to Shawn, Dan and Heather for finding the right balance between organized workshops meant to help us dig deep within ourselves, and freedom to interact with each other, whether this was by playing charades and soccer, or by chilling together on the beach under a silent black sky painted in stars. I feel as though I am a part of a community of friends, and there is something special to be taken from that. Who knew a weekend could transform a group of strangers into a group of friends all determined in creating a single positive change.

Alone we are raindrops evaporating in the sun’s rays.
Together we are a robust river turning mountains into valleys.           

A bike tour of the False Creek Flats: A ride meant to get our creativity and understanding circulating

IMG_20150916_135226The bike tour kept the momentum from the weekend rolling. A bunch of us rented bikes and rode to Granville Island, which was an amazing excuse to get to know some teammates better. The actual tour of the False Creek Flats was really beneficial, as it allowed us to see the space we were working with and its unique characteristics. This tour validated the importance of really experiencing the problem, versus just reading about it.

My Change Lab team: EZ Transportation Inc.

Our team can be captured by our name. What is EZ Transportation? It’s Environmentally Zealous Transportation, Ethically Zealous Transportation, Economically Zealous Transportation and plain and simple, it’s easy transportation. Our team not only bears a deeper meaning than just four students working together; it signifies the creative potency that we possess in articulating a meaningful and versatile solution. Shawn’s famous question is “What keeps you up at night?” For me, it’s the potential our team has to create meaningful change. The words of Erasmus encapsulate our team and the other Changemakers:

“There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other”
– Desiderius Erasmus

IMG_0565Amar Badh is currently completing a joint major in Molecular Biology/ Biochemistry with Business Administration at SFU, as well as SFU’s new Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Prior to SFU, Amar completed an Associates in Arts: English Literature degree from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Amar is often considered “a charismatic chameleon” amongst friends and family, due to his comfort adapting to his environment and his ability to adjust his demeanour to make the person he is talking to feel comfortable. Amar’s academic endeavours provide insight to what he is really passionate about, making connections: connecting people to their own personal goals and abilities, to other people or to the world around us. Amar sees the world as a vast network where everyone and everything is connected; his challenge is connecting the dots.

Learning & Listening – The Fall 2015 Change Lab way

By | Change Lab, RADIUS Edu | One Comment

By Change Lab student Naomi Ambrose 

Thanks to the Fall 2015 Change Lab program, I learned that it is possible to use the beauty and peacefulness of nature to further develop my listening skills, while learning about the passions and values of others.

Change Lab Retreat - Sept 2015 - 1I came to this realization on the last day of our opening retreat to Camp Alexandria. My fellow Change Lab classmates and I, along with our facilitators, went for a walk from our campsite to a nearby beach. When we arrived on the bumpy yet beautiful gravel road that eventually led to the beach, our facilitators asked us to walk in pairs:  one person would speak for 5 minutes about the goals he accomplished and/or pursued a year later after completing the Fall 2015 Change Lab program, while the other person had to listen to the speaker recount the details of his year – without interjecting or commenting. Sounds easy, right? I can assure you this listening exercise was not easy.

Change Lab Retreat - Sept 2015 - 3I had to make a concerted effort to stay silent when my classmate Nathan told me about the environmental projects that he completed over the last year. I wanted to say: “Wow Nathan, that’s awesome that you completed and participated in these environmental initiatives and projects. I wanted to tell him: “Your love for the environment and nature is commendable and evident” when he showed me some of the plants and trees he replanted as we passed the thousands of green trees and plants, nestled in between the gravel road. (No worries though, I did eventually commend Nathan on his love for nature and the environment in another exercise my classmates and I participated in!)

One of my biggest takeaways from that listening exercise on that sunny September Sunday afternoon at the Change Lab retreat was that, while it might be difficult for us to stay fully engaged and to listen attentively during a prolonged conversation or class lecture, it is nonetheless worthwhile and possible to make an effort to listen to the speaker for at least 5 minutes – with the help of journal, a pen or pencil.

Thanks to that exercise, I also learned that it is a great idea to write down and reflect upon something I learned from the conversation, or maybe something I learned about the speaker’s personality, values, interests or goals. Thanks to the learning that I gained from that exercise and with the help of my Change Lab classmates and facilitation team, I think can officially say that I am on my way to becoming a good listener – 5 minutes at a time.

Change Lab Retreat - Sept 2015 - 4