Five Projects Award Social Innovation Seed Funding

By | Community, RADIUS Edu, Social Innovation | No Comments

The SFU Student Social Innovation Seed Fund is a joint initiative of Embark Sustainability and RADIUS that supports thoughtful change endeavours with social and environmental impact at their core. The Fund allocates sums ranging from $200-$1,500 to SFU undergraduate and graduate student social innovators. Applications for the 2018/2019 year will re-open this fall.

Five remarkable initiatives were awarded funding in the fourth round of the 2017-2018 cycle. Read about them below!


Founded by a team of Health Change Lab students, CARESEL is a toolkit that empowers teachers to incorporate the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) component of the new BC curriculum with pick-up-and-go lessons tied into subjects that they already teach. CARESEL allows teachers to choose the grade that they teach (ie. Grades 4-7) and the subject in which they want to promote SEL (ie. English, Science, Social Studies, or Math). They then receive activities to facilitate with their students that meet the BC curriculum requirements by merging the BC core competencies with some form of the SEL core competencies. This allows teachers to teach familiar activities that meet curricular requirements while integrating SEL, providing them with support and a way to incorporate new requirements during existing class time.

Sinulkhay & Ladders

Developed by Michelle Nahanee during her MA in Communications at SFU, Sinulkhay and Ladders is a giant 8-ft board game that promotes the Squamish practice of Chen chen stway (holding each other up) while calling out neocolonial scenarios of oppression. Its purpose is to provide a framework for developing decolonizing practices for working better together. The focus of the game is bettering Indigenous to non-Indigenous relations in professional settings, making sure we are holding each other up and not sliding down the double-headed serpent, called ‘Sinulkhay’ by Squamish.

Learn more about Michelle’s workshop trainings by visiting the Decolonizing Practices website. Also, check out this Eventbrite page for upcoming Decolonizing Practices workshops in July and August.


Tumblershare is a program that aims to reduce coffee cup waste on SFU campuses through a tumbler membership service. Currently being piloted at Renaissance Coffee at SFU Burnaby, Tumblershare participants pay a $10 deposit fee for a membership card. When they visit Renaissance Coffee for a hot drink, they can exchange their card for a tumbler for their coffee or tea. Once they are finished their drink, they simply return the tumbler to the cafe and receive their membership card back.


When a team of Mechatronics Engineering and Business students collaborated on a project, SonoRail was invented. SonoRail is a robotic device that allows sonographers (medical professionals performing ultrasounds) to remotely control an ultrasound machine. Sonographers commonly experience Work Related Muskuloskeletal Disorders (WRMSD), including carpal tunnel syndrome and shoulder capsulitis, due to repeated application of force and sustained pressure in administering these medical tests.  The SonoRail team seeks to prevent sonographers from having to sacrifice their health in order to support their patients. They are developing a device that will be comprised of two main components: an arm holding an ultrasound probe that will be controlled via a remote, and a remote control that the sonographer can use that simulates their wrist motions with the probe and the physical sensations of moving the probe.


Co-founded by 2018 RADIUS Fellow Larissa Chen and her business partner Delara Tabari, Böues is a personal care brand dedicated to creating natural body care products that work. Böues  challenges existing products on the market that typically involve unnecessary chemicals, single-purpose usage, and excessive packaging. The Böues team didn’t want to use these products for themselves or see their family and friends use them. With health-conscious hygiene practices and sustainability in mind, they discovered a natural alternative: upcycling leftover beeswax and raw honey into bath and body products. Through in-person sales and digital marketing campaigns, Böues also educates people on the importance of being mindful of the impact of daily hygiene products on ourselves, our communities and our ecosystem. Stay up to date with Böues by following them on Instagram: @bouesofficial.

SFU Students: Apply now to Join the Health Change Lab Fall 2018 Cohort!

By | Change Lab, RADIUS Edu, Social Innovation | 2 Comments

Applications for Health Change Lab are reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis until the program is full. Please note that the Round 2 deadline has been extended to Tuesday May 22nd, 2018.

What is Change Lab?

Change Lab programs have been running at SFU since 2011. These unique, once-in-a-degree studio programs are intensive opportunities to hone your skills at developing practical solutions to real-world challenges.

The Spring 2018 Civic Innovation Change Lab cohort has just wrapped up, and Fall 2018 Health Change Lab applications are now being accepted.

Health Change Lab Schedule and Logistics

  • Studio days: Tuesdays 11:30am – 5:20pm at SFU Surrey.
  • Project coaching: Thursdays 2:30pm – 5:20pm at the RADIUS Social Innovation Lab (200-308 West Hastings Street, Vancouver).
  • Retreat: There is a day-long offsite retreat on September 11, expenses covered.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

ChangeLab Studio Day

(11:30am – 5:20pm)

 @ SFU Surrey


Project Coaching

(2:30pm- 5:20pm)


(downtown Vancouver) 


What will you learn and do?

In Health Change Lab, participants work in interdisciplinary teams to investigate a community health-related challenge. Then, they develop and test an innovative, venture-based response. Teams will present to partner panels for feedback mid term and be given the opportunity to connect with community and City partners and leaders to help build their ideas with the possibility of seeing them proceed in the real world.

Sessions are a mix of hands on workshops, coaching by instructors and experts, limited content lectures, guest speakers, and open work time in your teams to advance your ideas.

Personal learning and leadership:

Ideal Change Lab students come in with keen curiosity and a willingness to explore and deepen their own leadership skills. Individual reflection and journaling are part of the course. Participants will be challenged to both give and receive feedback from peers and instructors. Openness, vulnerability, and the ability to listen deeply are highly valued.

The workload:

Commensurate with 10 credits, you should expect this to be an intensive experience. Many students have described the course as the most transformative of their undergraduate degree – but you have to be interested in and committed to:

  • developing and testing real ideas,
  • getting out of the classroom and talking to people, and
  • taking responsibility for the direction of your learning during the term.

There isn’t a lot of mandatory reading or information to memorize – you work with us to figure out what you need to learn to effectively advance your project.

The content:

Some of the topics you will learn about are social entrepreneurship, systems thinking, public health and community health issues pertinent to Surrey, determinants of health, business model development, personal development, effective teams, and more.

The specific credits that you are awarded are:

  • BUS 453 (Sustainable Innovations) – 3 credits
  • BUS 494 (Design for Innovation) – 3 credits
  • HCSI 495 (Applied Health Sciences Project) – 4 credits

Health Change Lab 2018 Instructors

This course is co-taught by experienced instructors Shawn Smith (BUS), Tamara Connell (BUS), and Paola Ardiles (HSCI). Mentors, speakers, and project partners are sourced through our extensive networks.

The cohort

You do not need any past business or health experience to thrive in this course! Expect your changemaking peers to bring a variety of perspectives from departments and faculties across the university, a breadth of experience from their own lives, and a shared passion for social and environmental issues.

While we value experience in social change, leadership and project creation of all sorts, we also encourage anyone excited about the description here to consider applying.


Note: certain prerequisites may be waived at discretion of instructors in extenuating circumstances:

  • 60 credits
  • 2.67 GPA
  • Some relevant work or volunteer experience

How to apply to Health Change Lab 2018

If the above description motivates you to apply, please email with the following three documents in one PDF file (if possible):

  • A 500-word letter of motivation describing your interest in this program;
  • An unofficial copy of your transcripts; and
  • A copy of your resume/CV to outline your relevant work and volunteer experience.
2018 RADIUS Fellowship

Introducing the 2018 RADIUS Fellows!

By | Fellows, RADIUS Edu | One Comment

It’s with much excitement that we introduce the 2018 RADIUS Fellows cohort! 

These 16 changemakers from diverse backgrounds will spend the next four months expanding their personal and professional capacities, growing their networks, supporting one another and building connections across the Greater Vancouver social innovation ecosystem. Program sessions will take place weekly at the RADIUS Hub under the leadership of RADIUS Education Programs Manager, Tamara Connell.

Unlike in previous years, the 2018 cohort deliberately comprises changemakers working in the following areas:

  • Refugee and Newcomer Settlement and Integration
  • Health Promotion
  • Future of Work/Precarious Employment
  • Future of Education

The Fellowship is made possible by funding from the Beedie School of Business,  SFU Innovates, and the Vancouver FoundationLearn more about the RADIUS Fellowship program here.

Meet the 2018 RADIUS Fellows! 

Mohammed Alsaleh

Mohammed Alsaleh is a Syrian-Canadian Human Rights Advocate, TEDx Speaker, and the B.C. Refugee Sponsorship Trainer.

He was a fourth-year medical student in Syria when he was forced to flee after surviving imprisonment and torture by the Assad regime for his involvement in the peaceful Syrian uprising.

Since arriving in Canada as a refugee in 2014, he has been building a new life in Vancouver resuming his activism as a public speaker and a volunteer raising awareness and helping other newcomers settle in B.C. From Syria to Canada, his journey and work was featured in the documentary “Welcome to Canada“.

Meheret Bisrat 

Meheret is a humanitarian, an advocate of inclusion and diversity and speaker of truth. Over the past 7 years, she has had the privilege of making meaningful impacts on the lives of new immigrants and refugees through her front line work in a nonprofit agency serving newcomers.  Her compassion, empathy, ability to form connections, love of engagement through dialogue and her curiosity of knowing people’s lives, allows her to understand people from various backgrounds. With a strong passion for social justice, Meheret strives to empower individuals and communities to advocate for themselves while addressing the inherent inequity that exists in our societies.  She is also a Board Member of the Ethiopian House Project, and is actively engaging with community members and other stakeholders to realize a dream of establishing an Ethiopian Community Center. Meheret graduated from SFU with a B.A. in Criminology. She hopes this fellowship experience will advance her natural leadership abilities.

Aslam Bulbulia

Aslam is a recent settler on Coast Salish territories with South African-Indian heritage. He has always tried to raise the bar set by his parents while being a good role-model for his brothers.

Through travel and studies, he explored political science, philosophy, city-planning, development, Islamic law and spirituality, user-centred design and decoloniality.

He has been shaped by experiences that include a Mosque tour of Johannesburg, teaching English in Toronto and Sharjah, performing stand-up comedy, co-producing a Palestinian-solidarity album, working for a large multi-national corporation, the ASRI Public Policy Fellowship and research positions within local and provincial government.

He is currently leading Community Engagement Initiatives at SFU’s Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies and involved with the Muslim Urbanists network. He is enrolled in the SFU Certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement, and part of CityHive’s Civic Engagement team, trying to understand how decolonising engagement can disrupt power and improve social cohesion.

Alan Chen

Alan is a keen intrapreneur with an eye for good questions and a lens for systems thinking. Raised in Vancouver and educated in Montreal, he embodies a gentle masculinity and an anti-oppressive approach in his interactions, politics, and work.

Alan’s pool of working experience comes from his time with McGill University’s sustainability community. Having completed a B.A.Sc. in Sustainability and Urban Systems, his personal diary of initiatives includes chapters on a leading a student-led placemaking group, living in an urban sustainability collective, as well as sitting on a committee to help seed-fund community-led sustainability initiatives on campus (all, he’d like to add, on rollerblades). In recognition of his efforts, Alan was awarded with the McGill University Emerald Key Catalyst Award in 2015 and was named onto the Corporate Knight’s 2016 Top 30 Under 30 Sustainability Champions in Canada List as well.

Currently, Alan works as an excitable assistant social planner with the City of Vancouver on the Vancouver Immigration Partnership, as well as a Program Liaison with Growing Chefs!

Larissa Chen

Larissa is an experiential learner and global go-getter, dedicated to community engagement and storytelling. Her passions lie in connecting with diverse individuals and identifying areas of strategic collaboration and support. She is the co-founder of Böues, a personal care company dedicated to creating natural products, aligning with her interests in social entrepreneurship and health promotion.

She has completed her Bachelor of Health Sciences in Population & Quantitative Health at SFU, with specialties in gerontology, social equity and health literacy. Larissa is now the Purchasing Manager at Virogin Biotech Ltd., a cancer research facility at UBC, and Research Assistant with the CLSA. Her other experiences include former President of the SFSS, SFU Senator and Communications Specialist for Bridge for Health. She also assists local small businesses and non-profits with developing effective digital marketing strategies.

Larissa enjoys travelling, photography, meeting new people, and appreciating Vancouver’s craft beer scene.

Christine Dyson

Christine is a recent graduate from Simon Fraser, and holds a BA in Environmental Geography, Minor in Environmental Education and Certificates in Spatial Information Science and Corporate Environmental Social Sustainability. Throughout her undergrad career, Christine was heavily involved within the SFU community in various student leadership positions. She believes these opportunities not only shaped her undergraduate education, but also taught her the importance of being involved within one’s community.

Currently, Christine is the Events and Marketing Coordinator for SFU Public Square, where she enjoys finding ways of connecting the university to the community and facilitating conversations on issues of public concern. She is continuously inspired by those she works alongside, and is curious about how she can help make a greater impact. With a passion for community engagement and education, Christine is thrilled to be a part of the RADIUS Fellows cohort.

Haitham El Khatib

Of Palestinian descent, Dubai birth and Lebanese citizenship, Haitham (Tibo) grew up surrounded by the sweet and sultry people and flavours of the Middle East; having lived in four of its countries. His travel and corporate experiences made Haitham a curious thinker and an avid adventurer. Motivated by asking “why?” he developed an interest in creating experiences that could shift one’s cultural perception. Upon moving to Vancouver, Haitham immersed himself in the west coast culinary culture graduating from the Northwest Culinary Academy, working in different capacities in the industry until embarking on opening his own concept, Aleph; an eatery that resembles a Middle Eastern garden, where people from typically opposing sides can find a point of commonality.

Showing the possibilities of peace through breaking barriers, it is through building community with this approach that Haitham aspires to contribute to social change. Why? To leave this world, slightly friendlier than it was when he walked into it.

Michael Hewlett

Michael Hewlett conducts applied research for SRDC, a non-profit consultancy that designs and tests social interventions to learn if those programs work, and how. Michael holds an MSc in Evidence-based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation from Oxford University (2016), and a BASc from McMaster University’s flagship Arts & Science Program (2014). He integrates maths, women’s studies, engineering, economics, medical humanities, physics, law, and other disciplines to appraise the evidence behind programs and policies, design research to test them, and develop novel responses to social issues.

As a RADIUS Fellow, Michael adds a rigorous, thoughtful, and practical approach to compliment the radical doing of a social innovation lab. He learned the latter through co-founding the McMaster Social Innovation Lab in 2014, a 45-member start-up that trained students in human-centered design and systems thinking.

If you have a project that you think would be of interest, particularly around emotions, adolescents, or food systems, you can reach Michael at

Robbie Hsieh

Robbie’s interest in creating meaningful employment for persons living with disabilities has led him to hold different roles for the past seven years. He began working as an adapted sports coach with the Canucks Autism Network, moving on to supporting students with special needs in the Burnaby School District. In his most recent role, Robbie managed a provincially funded employment program with Open Door Group serving youth with disabilities in the greater Vancouver area.

Robbie holds a BBA from Simon Fraser University with concentrations in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. He is keen to combine his business background and his work experience to help build a more inclusive labour market for persons with disabilities.

Julia Hulbert 

Julia Hulbert is a community engagement and communications specialist with a passion for urban planning, heritage, art and culture.

Julia has over a decade of experience working in the arts and culture sector in Vancouver and Victoria, BC. She completed her Bachelor of Arts, Honours, at the University of Victoria in Art History in 2010 and is currently a Master’s student at Simon Fraser University in Urban Studies. Her personal interests concern connecting people to place which she does through curatorial projects and community engagement activities.

Julia volunteers as a Heritage Commissioner with the City of Vancouver and is a member of the Heritage Advisory Panel to the Vancouver School Board. Her views on heritage are holistic and inclusive—she is passionate about the built environment and its capacity to shape collective experiences. Paramount to her interpretation of place is the understanding that the land contains layers of histories and values that are often in conflict. Her Master’s thesis explores these values and narratives by asking how the exclusion of intangible cultural heritage from municipal heritage plans creates barriers to the realization of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Actions.

In addition to her studies and volunteer work, Julia works as a consultant in cultural and heritage planning and public art policy development. Recent projects include the City of Victoria’s Cultural Plan, the City of Maple Ridge’s Cultural Plan Update and Maple Ridge’s Developer Public Art Policy.

Jesse Kancir

Jesse Kancir is a resident physician at the University of British Columbia, completing his training in Public Health and Preventive Medicine, with special interests in population health and healthy communities, Canadian healthcare policy, and medical education.

Jesse’s training has focused on science, social science, and public policy, with education at the University of Waterloo, the University of Toronto, the London School of Economics, and the University of Cambridge, where he was a 2014-2015 Chevening Scholar.

He has previously worked as Policy Advisor to federal Minister of Health Dr. Jane Philpott, and was the 2013-2014 President of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students.

Bahar Khazei

Bahar is an educator and researcher and is strongly passionate about improving the education system for newcomers. She is currently a graduate student at the UBC faculty of education, researching policies that directly affect newcomer youth in the education system in British Columbia. She is also an elementary school teacher with training in Montessori philosophy. Bahar is involved with various projects and groups at UBC. As an executive member of the World University Society of Canada UBC chapter, she has worked directly with the WUSC Student Refugee Program and WUSC Ottawa to raise awareness about refugee issues in Vancouver.

Bahar is an outdoor enthusiast and loves working with students outside. She has taught youth about food cycle and sustainability and has worked with the UBC farm education programs and local not for profit organizations such as Soaring Eagle Nature School and Environmental Youth Alliance. In her spare time she enjoys, growing food, beekeeping, photography and hiking.

Caroline Merner

Caroline is a passionate environmental educator and a sustainability enthusiast. Caroline works at Ocean Wise engaging youth in ocean conservation. She co-directed the Dalhousie Student Union Sustainability Office in 2016-17 and, since 2015, has served as a Youth Advisory Group member for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. Her background in conservation has taken her to the Arctic, Hawaii, Peru, Chile and Banff, as a workshop facilitator and international conference delegate. As a graduate from Dalhousie University in Sustainability and International Development, Caroline’s thesis focused on effective climate change communication. For her work, Caroline has been named Green Student of the Year by Dalhousie University, an inaugural Young Women for Nature by Nature Canada, and a Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalists by Starfish Canada. She is now thrilled to co-direct Climate Guides in Vancouver, a mentorship program addressing climate change.

Shagufta Pasta

Shagufta is a social planner, a writer and a builder of community. She has a Political Science degree from UBC and a Masters in Planning, specializing in Social Policy and Planning from the University of Toronto. Her Masters project examined how planners can better deconstruct and address conflicts that surface with proposed mosque developments. After graduate school, she coordinated the UBC Community United Way Campaign, helped organize donor engagement projects at United Way Toronto, and lived in Johannesburg for 2 years, an experience that changed her understanding of what inclusion can feel and look like.

She currently helps undergraduate Arts students at UBC figure out who they are becoming and what they want to do in the world. Outside of work Shagufta blogs, podcasts and vlogs about careers, work, cities and representative books at, experiments with vegetarian recipes, and organizes bookclubs – her favourite way to make new friends.

Jillian Read

Jillian finds bios hard to write (which is funny, because Jillian is paid to write things). Currently, she is a Communications Strategist and Consultant for Curitus, a B.C. firm specialising in project consulting and media support for charities. She has several years of experience working with community organisations in both Canada and the UK, including those in the arts, education, youth mentorship, and First Nations health care. In 2015, she made the somewhat questionable decision to move to Edinburgh after watching the classic Julia Roberts’ film, “Eat Pray Love” (she wishes she was joking). There, she spent most of her time managing Light Up Learning, an education charity that mentors disengaged young people and puts them in charge of their own learning experiences. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of British Columbia. It can be found hanging somewhat crookedly on her living room wall.

Michaela Slinger

Michaela’s first love is performing, and she made her public debut at age 3 singing the anthem at an NBA game. Although (regrettably) she does less performing now, Michaela’s life continues to be about connecting with people—audience or not. She has eight years’ experience coaching youth in competitive swimming and soccer, and her undergraduate thesis included the design and pilot of an educational after-school program. Michaela graduated from Quest University, an innovative liberal arts and science institution, where she was also involved with her school newspaper. She was chosen as one of ten undergraduate journalism fellows to work with Discourse Media on their Possible Canadas project during the last federal election. Michaela also worked with her student government, and spearheaded a voter engagement group for BC’s most recent provincial election. In her new life as a non-student, Michaela works with Open Door Group as Executive Assistant to the COO.

From Makerspace Prototypes to Mental Health Research: An interview with student changemaker Benta Cheng

By | Change Lab, Community, RADIUS Edu, Social Innovation | No Comments

Recent Health Change Lab alumna, Benta Cheng, sat down with Zoya Jiwa from the RADIUS team to share how her program experiences inspired her to participate in the Map the System Challenge: an international research competition that asks students to think differently about social change. The team registration deadline for Map the System is Monday January 22nd. Find details here!

ZJ: How did you hear about Change Lab, and what inspired you to apply?

BC: When I first heard of Health Change Lab (HCL), it was from a friend and alumnus from the HCL cohort a year prior. From our discussions, I immediately understood that HCL would be a breath of fresh air from my typical undergraduate lectures. In partnership with Fraser Health and the City of Surrey, HCL brings together students from different faculties to define and propose prototypes to address a community problem within the Surrey context. I was drawn to the program since it seemed experiential, challenging, and most importantly, like it would be an opportunity to consolidate my learning into a community based project with an interdisciplinary team of students. After four years as a Health Science student, I was excited to work alongside students from other faculties, all bringing their own perspectives and strengths. The mention of “Change” was also both exciting and humbling—to think that I would be able to work with closely with a community to instill positive change through a capstone project left me eager to apply and begin.

ZJ: What were your expectations going into the program?

BC: As the semester progressed, I uncovered surprising discrepancies from my initial impressions. The ‘Change’  in Health Change Lab was referring to positive change within myself. The professors wanted to see us growing fast and failing fast. Unconventionally, failing and respectful conflict was encouraged and not looked down upon. My peers and professors created such a safe space for me to improve my public speaking, learn to give constructive and respectful criticism, build effective business skills, and so much more. My classmates supported one another through our prototyping and pivots as we navigated our respective problem areas. Overall, I quickly came to understand that the magnitude of my self-improvement and growth would determine my success in the course.

ZJ: Sounds like a transformational realization early on in the program! Who was on your team?

BC: My team consisted of an International Studies student, an IAT student, and two Health Sciences students (including myself). Although our angles were different, we came together with an initial passion for youth mental health.

ZJ: What idea did you start with, and what ended up being your final project?  

BC: After numerous expert and user interviews, coupled with mind maps and root cause analyses galore, we realized there were a number of seemingly indirect but effective approaches to support young people as they grappled with becoming an adult, navigating their life post-secondary school, landing that first job, among other struggles!

Our final prototype was a Maker School for youth adults to engage with one another and with mentors through future-ready skill building. The Maker School idea is a union between a traditional Makerspace and a youth-centered education space. This space wouldn’t just be for hobbyists, but also for young people who wanted to try their hand at making things in a low-commitment space. 

ZJ: Wow, what a journey! What was it like to present your final project and wrap up the program?

BC: During our final presentation, each team proudly presented their final prototypes in front of a panel consisting of business professionals, City of Surrey representatives, and Fraser Health delegates. As nerve-wracking as it was, seeing the final product and how far we had all come in the semester was extremely fulfilling.

During our last class, there was a sense of melancholy as we sat in a circle with our instructors watching Space Kittens on YouTube and feasting on potluck food. One by one, we shared our final thoughts about the course and how we’ve changed and grown. There were tears, laughter, and lots of hugging. It was an honour to how my peers were actively working on and overcoming their deepest struggles. I mean, was this course hard? Definitely. My head was in a cloud the whole semester and I never felt like I was on stable ground. However, I truly believe that every undergraduate student should experience something like this. You won’t regret it.

ZJ: In what ways
did the lessons you learned in Health Change Lab inspire you to register for Map the System?

BC: Besides introducing and instilling the mental tools necessary to understand and navigate a problem area, the interdisciplinary nature of Health Change Lab also introduced new perspectives to understanding the system where the problem lives. Now, when I look at a problem, instead of feeling “stuck” or overwhelmed, I can unpack and dive deep into potential solution areas, and that is extremely exciting.

ZJ: What is your team researching though the Map the System Challenge? 

BC: This is very preliminary, but our team is exploring mental health outcomes (whether this is self-perceived or by clinical diagnosis is still in question) in children of first generation immigrants living in the Greater Vancouver area. This problem space is important to me, firstly, because I am a child of two immigrant parents, but also because of the conversations I’ve had with people in my community about the unique set of struggles they face with respect to family cohesion, cultural displacement, and internalizing the struggles of their parents. My team and I are looking forward to learning more about this population.

ZJ: What advice would you offer other students who are curious about changemaking at SFU?

BC: To any student who wants to engage in changemaking, you’ve already taken the first step through being curious! There are many opportunities to engage in changemaking at SFU if you look for them. In fact, every year (every month, even!), more opportunities become available. Reach out to people you admire – they could be professors, peers, or just someone you define as a changemaker. Most people are very open to coffee or a phone call.  Since you’re here, check out the RADIUS website! Finally, don’t be afraid to seek experiences offered from other faculties as well.

A warm thank-you to Benta for sharing her experiences! We wish her team all the best with participating in the Map the System Challenge.

Welcome to the 2018 Civic Innovation Change Lab Cohort!

By | Change Lab, RADIUS Edu, Uncategorized | No Comments

Civic Innovation Change Lab is a once-in-a-degree immersive experiential learning program. Undergraduate students from a variety of academic disciplines – including Political Science, Health Science, Business, International Studies, Gender Studies, Sociology, and Resource and Environmental Management – come together to form interdisciplinary teams. Together, they investigate social, economic, and environmental challenges within the city of Vancouver, build a sustainable business model to creatively respond to it, and pitch their ideas to community influencers – all in just 13 weeks.

Co-hosted by RADIUS SFU, CityStudio, Semester in Dialogue, and the Beedie School of Business, Civic Innovation Change Lab is the newest addition to the Change Lab portfolio. Civic Innovation refers to a method that improves the lives of citizens, the functions of cities, the practice of citizenship, or the state of community affairs. This course weaves together advanced knowledge in Civic Issues, Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, with the core practices of Dialogue, Design Thinking, and Business Model Development to allow students to become capable of producing impactful social innovations in cities.  Instructors Tara Mahoney and Jeremy Stone will leverage their strong academic and professional backgrounds in civic issues to host this Change Lab cohort. They’ll be joined by many mentors and partners from across Vancouver. Change Lab programs are generously supported by Scott Shaw.

Without further ado, meet the first ever Civic Innovation Change Lab cohort! We are so excited to work with these emerging changemakers.

Eliane Bowden

Passionate about sustainable living and bringing people together, Eliane is most in her element when collaborating with other students or engaging with just about anyone. She is completing her fourth year at Simon Fraser University in Business Administration and is looking forward to expanding her studies to tackle civic challenges in Change Lab this spring. She is most excited to work with the cohort to bring forward new ideas to improve Vancouver’s communities.

Jordan Arnold

Jordan is a 4th year Political Science and International Studies student focusing on international law and human rights. He enjoys spending his free time volunteering as a peer educator and mentor to incoming first year and transfer university students. He is most excited to work with students from a variety of educational backgrounds to see how they can create new and innovative ways to address social problems together.

Alica Felgendreher

Alica is a fourth year student pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology. She is particularly interested in the production of inequality, gender relations, poverty, welfare, and public policy. Having witnessed first-hand how social inequality and stigmatization prohibits marginalized individuals from accessing basic healthcare and social services within their community, she feels strongly about challenging the individualization of social problems. Alica is excited to collaborate with students from different disciplines who share her interest in improving the lives of vulnerable community members. She also looks forward to learning practical skills and strategies to create impactful change in her community.

Abby Ferris

Abby moved to Vancouver from Northern British Columbia five years ago to pursue nothing in particular. With time and good fortune, she collected experiences and connected with people that inspired and propelled her forward. Abby is passionate and empathetic about the people and world around her. With a keen interest in the subtle but meaningful interactions between people and environment, she hopes to pursue a career in which she can simultaneously promote human wellness and environmental justice in urban centres through design thinking.  Abby is sincerely excited for the opportunity Civic Innovation Change Lab presents: to collaborate and engage with people who share an interest in the world around them.

Sarah McBain

Sarah is committed to sustainability by promoting social equity and business that strives to meet the triple bottom line. Currently, Sarah is a BBA candidate at the Beedie School of Business, studying Sustainable Business and Psychology. Sarah plans to attend graduate school, where she will continue to focus on policy development
 and promotion of cost effective environmental initiatives. 
Having travelled extensively and studied at Lund University in Sweden, she approaches her career and her personal life from a global perspective. Sarah is eager to work in collaboration with committed, diverse, and hard working students who share the same goal of promoting social health and civic innovation.

Melissa Nelson

Melissa is a fourth year student pursuing her undergraduate degree in Communication with an extended minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies.  She is currently working as the Communications Assistant at the Women’s Health Research Institute and enjoys learning new ways to harness the power of social media for change.  Melissa is excited to work with such a diverse group of students, and looks forward to discussing the future of AI!

Jessica Mayne

Jessica is in her third year of studies in the Bachelor of Business Administration program at SFU. She has interests in marketing, entrepreneurship, and supporting local businesses. Jessica is excited to combine her interests in business and community connection for Civic Innovation Change Lab! She hopes to diversify her skill set by learning from the several disciplines of her peers. Outside of SFU, Jessica is passionate about her work as a youth ministry coordinator at her church. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys skiing, salsa dancing and baking.

Tawanda Masawi

Tawanda is a member of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s Company of Young Professionals. He is a versatile global citizen who has lived and worked in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and the Middle East. He has a passion for emerging trends and technology. Tawanda is currently working towards gaining competency in the application of Blockchain technology to inter-organizational data management for financial firms and supply chain management. He is excited about Civic Innovation lab, as he hopes to bring people and technology together to support and design the next generation of city services.

Maya Schofield

Maya Schofield is beginning her third year of undergraduate studies at SFU. Maya believes that positive innovation is the culmination of a community of effort. For this reason, she is most looking forward to meeting and working with people who have diverse skill sets and forward-thinking attitudes towards tackling social problems in Vancouver. Maya is also excited to learn which issues are most concerning for the communities in which we will be working, and the approaches people within the
community believe should be applied in addressing these.

Sarah Smith

Originally from Victoria, BC,  Sarah Smith is a fourth year student at SFU. Completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology and a Legal Studies Certificate, she is looking forward to being challenged in a new focus that is different from her usual field of study. Following her graduation in April 2018, she will be pursuing further education in either a Juris Doctor program or graduate program in Policy Analysis. Her extra-curricular passions include sports and outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. In Civic Innovation Change Lab, she is most excited to build connections with team members of diverse backgrounds while working towards a common goal.

Adam Rossi

Adam is a fourth year Communication student with a particular interest in social freedoms and sustainable development through information technology. He believes that in our age of connectivity, all voices should be heard. A passion for responsible development drove Adam to participate in Civic Innovation Change Lab, where he is excited to be part of a creative environment that is engaging in social entrepreneurship. As a student getting ready to transition to the business world, he hopes to learn how to grow his ideas into vehicles for social change.

Nura Safaie

Nura is a fourth year student at Simon Fraser University studying Political Science with a focus on human rights and policy analysis. Outside of school, Nura is a member of the Surrey Youth Council and is currently working on various projects aiming to better the community and environment. Nura believes that the Civic Innovation Change Lab will allow her to gain more knowledge and hands on experience in community level initiatives. She is excited to meet new people and to begin working towards creative and sustainable solutions to real world problems.

Jocelyn Singh

Jocelyn is in her fourth year at SFU studying Resource and Environmental Management. Sustainable city development is a topic that she would like to focus her degree on, so she is eager to explore topics such as, social housing, community health, and green infrastructure through Civic Innovation Change Lab. She believes that this program will give her the exposure and hands on experience she needs to better understand the complexity of urban landscapes.

Kaiqi Yang

Kaiqi is an exchange student at SFU from Sciences Po in France. She has lived and studied in China, France, and Canada, and she loves to travel. Kaiqi is passionate about communicating with intelligent and inspiring minds from all over the world. She has great interests in political science and law. She is also an enthusiastic learner of languages and photography. She wishes to work as a lawyer in Public International Law in the future and contribute to the international community. She looks forward to meeting and working with the Civic Innovation Change Lab students while contributing to the community.

Queenie Tran

Queenie is your local East Van gal studying Public Health and Gerontology. She has a repository of working in the service sector in which she elevated mundane moments and turned them more than mediocre memories. In her leisure time, she enjoys practicing yoga, running senselessly on the streets, and discovering the affluent food scene in Vancouver. Queenie looks forward to exploring urban economic resilience in the city and how to foster further community engagement.

Rachel Wong

Rachel Wong is a Communication major and an International Studies minor with a keen interest in civic engagement, urban planning, and public space activation. Outside of the classroom, Rachel is also a radio host, writer, foodie, and a musician. She is excited for the hands-on experience that the Civic Innovation Change Lab will bring, as well as learning about how the future of work will impact our cities and urban spaces.

Saba Yassemi

Saba moved to Canada in 2011. After graduating from SFU with a
Bachelor of Sciences degree, she continued her co-op placement as
a Special Education Assistant (SEA) working with children with
special needs. As a long-term goal, she is considering a career in
coaching, with the intention of improving the quality of employment
in organizations who are challenged by business management issues.
She is excited to practice and acquire leadership skills through the
Civic Innovation Change Lab experience and meet mentors and team
members who will accompany her through this journey.

Map the System Challenge 2017-2018: Register by January 22nd!

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After winning both the national and global competitions last year, SFU is participating in the annual Map the System Challenge (formerly the ‘Oxford Global Challenge’) along with other top schools from around the world! Unlike most business and case competitions, Map the System is focused on deeply understanding social problems before trying to solve them. Register your team now to participate around an issue you care about! 

  1. What is Map the System?

An initiative of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford, Map the System encourages students and educators to think differently about social, environmental, and economic challenges by mapping out the landscape of current problems and solutions while identifying missed opportunities for change. In teams of up to five people, SFU students and recent alumni choose a problem space to thoroughly research on a systems level. Then, they present their findings to their peers, community members, and influencers.

  1.  What problem should I or my team work on?

Any problem you are passionate about, whether it’s a local or global issue – all the better if you have already been working on something! You can take a look at some of the research focus areas from last year’s international competition.

Last year, the successful SFU team won both the national and global Map the System Challenge competition with their extensive research project about solid medical waste from Vancouver hospitals. Check out their final pitch at the global finals!

  1. Do I need a solution idea for my problem?

Nope! You just need a thorough understanding of the problem and current gaps or opportunities. A helpful framework to start with is Daniela Papi-Thornton’s Impact Gaps Canvas, which offers a comprehensive approach to mapping out a social problem.

  1. Who is eligible to apply?

Individuals or teams of up to five people. You must have at least one SFU student (undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral) OR a recent alumni (i.e. within 1 year of the registration date, January 22nd, 2018), and may include community members.

  1. How do I apply? What’s the timeline?
  • November 16th, 2017: Map the System Info Session for SFU students, alumni, and community interested in Map the System.
  • January 22nd, 2018: Complete the short registration form; all SFU teams are required to complete this quick registration form to confirm their involvement and chosen problem area.
  • January 27th, 2018: Problem Mapping 101 – a workshop hosted in collaboration with UBC. Present your problem space and research ideas to peers and community experts, and receive feedback and connections to deepen your work. Register here!
  • March 26th, 2018: full submission for the SFU local competition round, including three documents, to present your findings: a visual map or other creative representation of the issue; research analysis (max. 2000 words); and a bibliography of resources.
  • April 11th, 2018: SFU-wide competition for top 8 teams. The winning team from this round will move on to the national finals.
  • May 4th-5th, 2018: Map the System National Finals, hosted by SFU at the Segal Graduate School of Business.
  1. What can we win?

Prize money, trips to Oxford and the Emerge Conference 2018, access to further funds and support, fame and glory, and the opportunity to learn about a problem you’re curious about. SFU will provide at least $1,000 for the top SFU individual or team, and $500 for two runners up.

  1. What support is there from SFU?

We’re hosting several workshops for participants in the Map the System Challenge prior to the March 26th, 2018 final project submission deadline (see timeline above). We will do our best to support and advise teams with narrowing down their problem area, sparking community connections to experts in their chosen fields, 1-on-1 coaching, and offering presentation guidance. Sign up for our mailing list to register for our next workshop on January 27th, 2018.

Additionally, there are already lots of great resources available by the global host, the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford.

More questions? Check out the Map the System FAQ first! Should you have further questions, feel free to contact Amy Farahbakhsh at afarahba[a] To receive updates about Map the System, you can sign up for our mailing list.

The Map the System Challenge at SFU is coordinated by RADIUS SFU and Student Engagement and Retention at SFU with support from the SFU Alumni Association and SFU Innovates. This opportunity is offered in partnership with the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at The University of Oxford, RECODE at the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and the Trico Charitable Foundation.

Don’t Miss Your Chance – Apply to the RADIUS Fellowship!

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Community blogger Laura Mannix is a 2017 RADIUS Fellows alumnus and Manager of Refugee and Specialized Programs at DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society.

The RADIUS Fellowship is Metro Vancouver’s preeminent professional development opportunity for top emerging social innovators from across the region. Applications for the 2018 Fellowship are open until 11:59pm on November 4th. To learn more about this opportunity, visit our Fellowship page or attend the Information Session on November 2nd

My experience in the RADIUS Fellowship enabled a journey that was significant, providing many experiences and opportunities that were fundamentally life altering. Going in, I wasn’t entirely sure what RADIUS was, or if I could be considered an actual  “change maker”  but I wanted the opportunity to be provided with insight into possible theoretical approaches, other perspectives and practices necessary to fully engage in meaningful community development. The Fellowship program offered a curriculum to enhance my capacity to make more impactful actions while connecting me to mentors, friends and peers that would inspire, strengthen and motivate me to continue the work I was doing.

As a newcomer to Vancouver, I had struggled to meet like-minded people and to foster authentic and deep friendships. As a young professional without established relationships or a forum like university to meet new people, it was an isolating and disenfranchising experience. The Fellowship provided me an entry into a vibrant community of diverse perspectives, ideas and lived experiences, some of whom I am now fortunate to call some of my closest friends. These are people I can rely on to have deep, open and meaningful dialogue. They are folks who have opened up their hearts and homes to me.

As someone who is away from their family, this kind of community is invaluable, and for this alone I am truly grateful for this journey.

2017 Fellow Laura Mannix at RADIUS’ annual concAUCTION event

The network I developed through the program (the Fellows, the RADIUS team and the wonderful people I was able to meet  as connections to RADIUS) have also contributed to the work I do in the community. I came into the program with a desire to build my personal leadership capacity, increase my knowledge and grow my network. Through participation in the program I was able to create partnerships to implement innovative refugee youth programming and recruit a key specialized advocate and facilitator to launch a pilot program for sexual and gender diverse newcomers.

I now feel immersed in a community and movement of people who are trying to create positive change and advance a more inclusive future in the Lower Mainland.

My exploration of the social innovation space continues. Thanks to the connection with RADIUS, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Social Innovation Certificate offered through SFU. I plan to continue collaborating with RADIUS and others in the network to help advance refugee and newcomer settlement and integration.

I am filled with gratitude to RADIUS for all of the opportunities and relationships that have emerged from the Fellowship program. Don’t miss your chance to participate if the Fellowship appeals to you! Application close this weekend.

The RADIUS Fellowship is currently accepting applications for the 2018 cohort. If you want to learn more, please review our website, join the Info Session on Nov. 2nd, and/or drop a line to the Fellowship Manager, Tamara Connell (tconnell[at]

Health Change Lab Retreat: Moving from Individual Interests to Interdisciplinary Collaborations

By | Change Lab, Community, RADIUS Edu, Social Innovation | No Comments

Applications are NOW OPEN for Health Change Lab, co-hosted by RADIUS, SFU Faculty of Health Sciences, and the Beedie School of Business,

By Health Change Lab alumna Stephanie Lam

It has hardly been one month since the Fall 2017 semester has started, and being enrolled in Health Change Lab has already inspired professional, academic, and personal development for my classmates and I. Initially, I felt anxious about my ability to be in an interdisciplinary and self-directed program. Nevertheless, I approached the term with excitement and hope to see what the semester would contribute to my learning journey. When the Health Change Lab cohort attended our first team retreat at Camp Alexandra, my nerves were immediately eased.

Following an early morning drive to White Rock, I arrived feeling calmed by the serene environment of Crescent Beach. From the start, it was clear that the retreat was designed to provide opportunities for peers to bond through a series of activities and workshops while providing a safe space to learn about ourselves.

At the beginning of the retreat, we all gathered around a fire pit. Upon the request of our instructors, each student brought an object that represents our motivation behind why we are interested in social change and community health. One by one, we presented our objects and dug deep to share the emotional and inspirational stories behind our current goals and future ambitions. As we sat around in a circle, it was amazing to see where all of my fellow classmates came from. As an interdisciplinary group of 21 individuals with varying backgrounds, it was amazing to see and feel that we were all connected as students who aspire to create positive change for the people around us.

Alongside sharing our personal objects and motivations, another challenging but illuminating activity was called the Super Social Vision Portal, which took place on Crescent Beach itself. As we walked along the sandy beach and took in vast views of the sea, we engaged in an activity that helped us practice deep listening, idea flow, and envisioning of our futures. Our instructor asked us to situate ourselves one year from now, as if we could time travel to September 2018. We spoke to 3 different partners about how and what we wanted our year to look like. The only catch was that we had to talk to each partner for 5 minutes, and they weren’t allowed to say or acknowledge anything that we said. Not only was it difficult for a group of young students to speak for 5 minutes straight about their futures, but talking to someone who couldn’t respond to us or offer feedback was interesting to say the least. This activity allowed me to fully engage and listen to my partner’s words. I couldn’t interrupt, share my thoughts, or lead the discussion towards a different trajectory. Instead, I discovered how important it is  to let people be in flow with their thoughts and ideas to engage in genuine and authentic conversations. The activity taught me a valuable lesson in improving my listening skills with my colleagues, friends, and family.

I look forward to the upcoming months, where I will collaborate with my fellow student changemakers to explore and propose interventions to improve community health within the City of Surrey!


Welcome new Change Lab Instructors!

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The first-ever Civic Innovation Change Lab is set to be offered during the Spring 2018 term. This cohort of students will be the 10th SFU Change Lab cohort, joining alumni from across various faculties and departments at SFU.

To match the fantastic calibre of students who take the Change Lab programs, we scoured the city for interested Instructors with the most impressive and relevant skill sets, attributes, and charm. After an extensive process, we’re thrilled to be able to officially welcome Jeremy and Tara to the Change Lab team:

Jeremy Stone

Jeremy has 15 years of community economic development experience with various urban and rural communities in the US and Canada. He specializes in economic resilience, microfinance, social enterprise, and gentrification. Jeremy has a BA in Anthropology and a Master of Public Administration from New York University, focusing on International Economic Development.

Tara Mahoney

Tara Mahoney is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Using practice-based research, her work examines how amateur cultural and media production operates as a form of participatory politics in contemporary society. She is also the creative director of Gen Why Media, a non-profit creative agency focused producing public art, media and events for social issues.

We’re already getting our hands dirty finalizing planning for the Spring and can’t way to deliver this first of its kind program in Vancouver.

SFU Change Lab – An overview

Change Lab programs have been running at SFU since 2011. These unique, once-in-a-degree studio programs are intensive opportunities to hone your skills at developing practical solutions to real-world challenges. Over the course of a term, student groups work to explore and specify a user-identified problem, ideate, prototype and test possible solutions, and finally construct a business model around the proposed solution.

Sessions are a mix of hands on workshops, coaching by instructors and experts, limited content lectures, guest speakers, and open work time in teams to go out into the community to learn and test.

The fall 2017 Health Change Lab cohort is currently in session, and the spring 2018 Civic Innovation Change Lab is accepting applications until October 15, 2017.

The Civic Innovation Change Lab

Civic Innovation Change Lab is the newest addition to the Change Lab portfolio. Civic Innovation refers to a method that improves the lives of citizens, the functions of cities, the practice of citizenship, or the state of community affairs. This course weaves together advanced knowledge in Civic Issues, Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, with the core practices of Dialogue, Design Thinking, and Business Model Development to allow students to become capable of producing impactful social innovations in cities.

The Civic Innovation Change Lab is a 9-credit experience co-hosted by SFU Beedie, RADIUS SFU, CityStudio Vancouver, and SFU Semester in Dialogue. Local partners include the City of Vancouver and a network of leading community organizations. Change Lab is generously supported by Scott Shaw and SFU Innovates.

Please join us in welcoming Jeremy and Tara to the Change Lab team!

For SFU students interested in taking this unique experience during the Spring 2018 term, please learn more about the opportunity and apply by October 15th.


By | Change Lab, RADIUS Edu | No Comments

What is Civic Innovation Change Lab?

Change Lab programs have been running at SFU since 2011. These unique, once-in-a-degree studio programs are intensive opportunities to hone your skills at developing practical solutions to real-world challenges.

Civic Innovation Change Lab is the newest addition to the Change Lab portfolio. Civic Innovation refers to a method that improves the lives of citizens, the functions of cities, the practice of citizenship, or the state of community affairs. This course weaves together advanced knowledge in Civic Issues, Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, with the core practices of Dialogue, Design Thinking, and Business Model Development to allow students to become capable of producing impactful social innovations in cities.

Urban Economic Resilience

The 2018 cohorts will focus on the theme of Urban Economic Resilience. The economy is more than just business: it represents the full breadth of livelihood strategies that our residents pursue on a daily basis. However, many urban livelihoods are increasingly vulnerable to a wide array of challenges such as automation and AI, gentrification, climate change, “Uberization”, and unjust social policies. This rapidly changing landscape is dramatically altering how people of all classes and backgrounds plan for and meet their basic needs, which in turn exacerbates issues such as gender and racial inequality, social isolation, generational ineqity, and the growing gap between the rich and poor.

Students projects will respond to these and explore community-orientated solutions that engage citizens and build local resilience. Topics and questions that students are encouraged to consider within the theme of Urban Economic Resilience include:

1)     The Future of Work:  What is the future of employment and business creation? What is the connection between vulnerability, stability, and the gig economy? How do we keep young people in the city? How do we create diverse and vibrant work opportunities for all residents?

2)     Economic Segregation and Isolation:  How do we better integrate vulnerable populations and those with barriers into the changing economy? How do we provide livelihood opportunities for people who may not fit within traditional work categories and structures?

3)     Entrepreneurial Resilience:  How do we protect the fabric of our commercial districts from threats like gentrification and climate change? How do we maintain the livelihood functions of neighborhood businesses for surrounding residents?

The Civic Innovation Change Lab is co-hosted by SFU BeedieRADIUS SFUCityStudio Vancouver, and SFU Semester in Dialogue. Local partners include the City of Vancouver and a network of leading community organizations. Change Lab is generously supported by Scott Shaw.

What will you learn and do?

Participants work in teams to understand a Civic Innovation-related challenge as presented by City of Vancouver staff at CityStudio Vancouver, then develop and test an innovative, venture-based response. Teams will present to partner panels for feedback mid term, and be given the opportunity to connect with community and City partners and leaders to help build ideas connected to the realities of our communities, and possibly to see those ideas proceed in the real world. Sessions are a mix of hands on workshops, coaching by instructors and experts, limited content lectures, guest speakers, and open work time in your teams to advance your ideas.

Personal learning and leadership:

Ideal Change Lab students come in with keen curiosity and a willingness to explore and deepen their own leadership skills. Individual reflection and journaling are part of the course. Participants will be challenged to both give and receive feedback from peers and instructors. Openness, vulnerability, and the ability to listen deeply are highly valued.

The workload:

Commensurate with 9 credits, you should expect this to be an intensive experience. Many students have described the program as the most transformative of their undergraduate degree – but you have to be interested in and committed to:

  • developing and testing real ideas,
  • getting out of the classroom and talking to people, and
  • taking responsibility for the direction of your learning during the term.

There isn’t a lot of mandatory reading or information to memorize – you work with us to figure out what you need to learn to effectively advance your project.

The content:

Some of the topics you will learn about are social entrepreneurship, systems thinking, civic issues, public and user engagement, dialogue, business model development, personal development, effective teams, and more.

The specific credits that you are awarded are:

  • BUS 453 (Sustainable Innovation) – 3 credits
  • BUS 494 (Iteration and Prototyping) – 3 credits
  • DIAL 461 (Field Placement in Dialogue & Engagement) – 3 credits

The cohort

You do not need any past business or civic innovation experience to thrive in this course. Expect your changemaking peers to bring a variety of perspectives from departments and faculties across the university, a breadth of experience from their own lives, and a shared passion for social and environmental issues.

While we value experience in social change, leadership and project creation of all sorts, we also encourage anyone excited about the description here to consider applying.

Pre-requisites (may be waived at discretion of instructors in extenuating circumstances):

  • 60 credits
  • 2.67 GPA
  • Some relevant work or volunteer experience

SFU Students: Apply Now for the Entrepreneurship and Changemaking Activators (E&C) Program!

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We are excited to announce that RADIUS SFU and Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection have joined forces to launch the new Entrepreneurship and Changemaker (E&C) Student Activators Program!

This paid opportunity brings together six students from a variety of faculties to support student engagement in a broad suite of changemaking opportunities at SFU, from promoting experiential learning opportunities like Change Lab, CityStudio and the Charles Chang Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, to designing and hosting workshops.   

Given that SFU was recently designated as one of just over 40 Ashoka Changemaker Campuses in the world, we are eager to activate student voices to build the momentum of SFU’s diverse ‘changemaking’ initiatives, where creative approaches are taken to addressing social, economic and environmental problems. The Changemaker Campus designation was a rigorous process conducted by Ashoka U, a global leader in social entrepreneurship. It recognizes colleges and universities for their commitment to social innovation through their research initiatives, their curriculum design, and their vibrant changemaking communities.

This program is supported by SFU Innovates and the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship.

We invite SFU students from all faculties to apply by September 12th, 2017 at 11:59PM.

You are:

  • A current SFU student with an expected graduation date no earlier than Fall 2018;
  • Passionate about social impact, innovation, entrepreneurship, and envision yourself as a changemaker;
  • An emerging student leader from any faculty with proven results and achievements;
  • Excited to help build a stronger entrepreneurial and changemaking ecosystem across SFU’s campuses;
  • A team player willing to work with a multi-disciplinary team;
  • Committed to learning how to present changemaking opportunities to your peers and to the broader community;
  • Willing to learn, take risks, make mistakes, and try novel approaches to problems.
  • Curious about and dedicated to continuous learning, personal development, and self-reflection.

You will:

  • Promote entrepreneurship and changemaking opportunities at SFU, including class presentations, tending booths, and attending events;
  • Coordinate and host events, such as workshops and speaker series;
  • Help with social media and branding of SFU as an Ashoka Changemaker Campus and the Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection program;
  • Be active on all three campuses over three terms;
  • Attend E&C Activators team meetings up to twice per month; and
  • Act as an ambassador on behalf of the SFU changemaking community, including RADIUS and Venture Connection, fulfilling your leadership role as a student changemaker.

Value to you:

  • A $4,000 stipend
  • Access to professional development (e.g. via workshops, coaching, etc.)
  • Profiles on RADIUS SFU and Venture Connections websites, newsletters, and blogs
  • A fun and engaging year connecting SFU students with an amazing array of opportunities

Time Commitment: 6-8 hours/ week
Timeline: October 2017 – September 2018
Application Deadline: September 12th, 2017 @ 11:59PM

How to Apply

To apply, send in your resume and cover letter in one file to Zoya Jiwa at by September 12th at 11:59pm with the subject line “Application: E&C Activators.”

In your cover letter, please concisely address the following in no more than two pages:

  • What are you studying at SFU, and what is your expected graduation date (semester / year)? How did you hear about this opportunity?
  • Which campus(es) are you based at most often?
  • Why are you the right person for this program? What relevant experience makes you a good fit?
  • What are two of your proudest achievements, and why?
  • Imagine: You return to campus in 10 years. What has been the impact of your involvement?

All applicants will be notified of their application status by Monday September 25th.

About SFU Innovates

SFU Innovates is a university-wide strategy that builds on our dynamic culture and seeks to strengthen SFU’s commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship.

About the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship

The Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship works to make SFU a global leader in entrepreneurship, providing unparalleled opportunities for SFU students.


RADIUS (RADical Ideas, Useful to Society) is a social innovation lab and venture incubator at the Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University. We develop and deliver cohort based programs to build the capacity of Radical Doers and to cultivate their projects and ventures in service of systems change. We are working towards a transformed economy that is dynamic, just, sustainable, and resilient. Read more about our work.

About Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection

Founded at SFU Surrey and serving all three SFU campuses, Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection supports SFU ventures from initial idea validation through to operating businesses. Services of the program include mentorship, office space, networking opportunities, internship/co-op terms, competitions, educational workshops and speaker events. Since 2008, the first-of-its kind, innovative, and groundbreaking program has engaged over 6000 participants, provided mentorship to over 200 student teams, and business development services to over 170 early-stage startups. Read more about their work.

About the Charles Change Institute for Entrepreneurship

SFU Innovates is a university-wide strategy that builds on our dynamic culture and seeks to strengthen SFU’s commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship.



Student Blog | Weekend Journey Through the Quilotoa Loop

By | Change Lab, Quito, RADIUS Edu | No Comments

Guest blogger Shanae Atkinson is a student in the Summer 2017 semester of Change Lab International: Ecuador – a unique, interdisciplinary program in global social entrepreneurship delivered by RADIUS, the Beedie School of Business, Impaqto Quito and Insight Global Education

Last weekend four of us went on a 2 day trek in the Andes called the Quilotoa Loop. We had planned to walk 3 portions of the trail, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, we left later in the day and ran out of daylight. Instead of hiking from Sigchos to Isinlivi, we took an unofficial taxi in the form of a pickup truck.  It was really fun to see the locals who were also using this mode of transportation. There was this cute elderly lady who stood up and waved at passerby’s for a good long portion of the journey.

We ended up arriving just in time for dinner at the nicest hostel on the loop, Llu Llu Llama. Even on such short notice they were able to find us rooms and serve us dinner, despite our dietary restrictions (2 vegetarians and 1 vegan).

Luckily for us, their power had gone out earlier in the day, so spa time had been postponed until after dinner! After a fairly long day of travel, albeit in vehicles, the jacuzzi was very welcomed.

The next morning, we packed up before 8 am and headed out right after breakfast. We were the first group to leave the hostel, but because we got lost, we were quickly overtaken by the others.

The first part of the journey was absolutely beautiful. We descended into a deep valley with large vibrant green hills surrounding it. We walked past many farms as we trekked alongside the river. A horse even tried to gnaw on my arm. We crossed the river on the best giant log bridge I’ve ever seen. Some of us also crossed a rotting suspension bridge for fun! But soon we were faced with the knowledge that everything that goes down must come back up. In this case, at a very steep grade. The resulting exertion as we climbed out of the canyon made the previous part of the trek seem like a cake walk in comparison.

Once out of the canyon, we were met with an absolutely amazing view of the valley. The rest of the journey to Chugchilán proved to be far less difficult, though also less interesting. Having walked 12.4 km by this point, we were delighted to reach the hostel and take a nap. The slight increase in elevation from Isinlivi to Chugchilán created a large change in temperature and we were pleased to find that Cloud Forest Hostel had warm fluffy sheets and many blankets to keep warm. The following morning, we were nearly the last to leave the hostel, as many of our friends had cheated and eaten breakfast early. We began with a quick descent into a valley followed by an even faster ascent out of the valley leading us to a farm. The owners of the farm seemed pretty used to this situation and very quickly sent two adorable small children to guide us to the rest of the trail. We unloaded much of our candy onto the children to express our gratitude (only partially because it was heavy and we didn’t want to carry it).

Next, we took a bit of a wrong turn, but thanks to the wonderful locals who didn’t get angry when we were trespassing (by accident), we were quickly given the right directions and sent on our way (once again parting with the heavy candy). The next part of the hike was a slow climb up many switchbacks to the rim of Quilotoa- where we were met with an absolutely phenomenal view and a great sense of fulfillment. I highly recommend this hike as it allows you to visit areas that would otherwise be very nearly inaccessible and to see the agricultural practices of the Andes. We saw cows, sheep, the occasional goats, and some alpacas or llamas, I’m still not sure which. We met a friendly donkey who used its body to do the equivalent of “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” when they could get some great neck rubs from us. All in all, a great experience!

Welcome the Health Change Lab 2017 Cohort!

By | Change Lab, RADIUS Edu, Uncategorized | No Comments

Health Change Lab is a once-in-a-degree immersive experiential learning course. Undergraduate students from a variety of academic disciplines – including Interactive Arts and Technology, Health Sciences, International Studies, Kinesiology, Behavioural Neuroscience, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and Business – come together to form interdisciplinary teams. Together, they investigate a local social problem, build a business model to creatively respond to it, and pitch their ideas to community influencers – all in just 13 weeks.

Hosted by RADIUS SFU, the Beedie School of Business, and SFU Health Sciences, Health Change Lab students collaborate with program partners such as Fraser Health and the City of Surrey on issues that are pertinent to Surrey. Students learn about social entrepreneurship, systems thinking, determinants of health, personal development, and effective team dynamics (to name just a few topics covered). Experienced instructors Shawn Smith (BUS), Tamara Connell (BUS), and Paola Ardiles (HSCI) leverage their networks to bring in mentors and partners who specialize in chronic disease prevention, food security, active transportation, design thinking, prototyping, storytelling and presentation skills. Health Change Lab is one in a series of Change Lab courses, including Change Lab Ecuador and an upcoming Civic Innovation Change Lab in Spring 2018. Change Lab programs are generously supported by Scott Shaw.

Without further ado, meet the Fall 2017 Health Change Lab Cohort! We are so excited to work with these emerging changemakers.

Demetra Barbacuta

Demetra is a fourth-year student obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences, an intended minor in Legal Studies, and a certificate in Health Ethics. She loves helping others, which has driven her to pursue a career in healthcare. She hopes to work within health policy, coming up with innovative health solutions to pressing challenges. Demetra is excited to learn about social entrepreneurship and how the power of new ideas can tackle current health issues; she believes that the young minds of today contain so many ideas that can create a social impact. In her downtime, Demetra likes to hike, tap dance, and occasionally binge-watch a good show on Netflix.

Benta Cheng

An avid enthusiast of ideas, people, and sunny days, Benta is looking forward to unearthing thoughtful and enriching conversations with her Health Change Lab peers this fall. She is currently pursuing a BSc in Health Sciences with a concentration in Population and Quantitative health. Benta’s academic interests lie within (but are certainly not limited to) the global burden of HIV/AIDS on youth, and GIS and its application in epidemiology and access to health services.

TK Chisvo

TK is a business student with a passion for social entrepreneurship. He enjoys collaborating with students with diverse experiences to tackle problems that are evident in today’s world. TK looks forward to bettering his understanding of the issues affecting the health sector in British Columbia and furthering his knowledge on social entrepreneurship. He also looks forward to working with students and faculty to create innovative and sustainable solutions that will be efficient and effective.

Nazanin Boroumandzad

Nazanin Boroumandzad is a 2nd Bachelor Degree student at the school of Interactive Art and Technology at SFU. As a computer engineer with a passion for design, she is enthusiastic to learn about and work within intersecting fields such as health care and business during Change Lab. Nazanin is excited to explore and ideate creative solutions to promote community health in the city of Surrey with her peers.

Dion Chong

Dion is a fourth-year International Conflict & Security major with a Development & Sustainability minor. He’s had the opportunity to work in the healthcare sector and in health promotion across Canada, as well as in youth livelihood promotion in Francophone West Africa. With a passion for challenging social inequality, particularly for minority and marginalized populations, Dion is looking forward to the exchange of ideas and perspectives with the diverse group of students in this fall’s Health Change Lab cohort.

Katie Fajber

Katie is a fourth year Health Sciences student with a particular interest in social justice within public health. She was introduced to the idea of business as a way to intervene in health issues after interning at a small social enterprise in Kolkata, India that used a business model to support survivors of human trafficking. Katie is excited to work closely with a diverse group of students and professionals to build healthier communities.

Katrina Jang

Katrina is a fourth-year Health Science major and hopeful Kinesiology minor who loves to explore the intricacies of health and environment. After several years studying health sciences, including a year working abroad in the township of Mangun, her interests have gravitated towards: immersing herself in different cultures and perspectives; improving health accessibility in marginalized communities; and deciphering how diseases spread. She is excited to take away a business lens from Change Lab that she can apply to everyday life and health, as well as work with her peers and within the community.

Cody de Leijer

Cody is currently the President of Enactus SFU: a student-run non-profit organization that sees local challenges as opportunities to innovate and implement creative solutions. He has a passion for environmental and social sustainability throughout business. Cody is most excited to learn about the challenges facing our local community, collaborating with his peers on potential solutions, and implementing that those solutions to create a positive impact in the community.

Helen Huynh

Helen is a Business and Interactive Arts & Technology student with a concentration in Media Arts. Her involvement with the 2016 Oxford Global Challenge (now renamed ‘Map the Systems Challenge’) paired with her interest in mental health and public health persuaded her to apply to Health Change Lab with hopes of learning more about health care barriers in the community.  She is excited about the new learning environment that the program will provide and hopes to work with her peers to build tangible interventions that could serve the city of Surrey.

Kirsten Hinlopen

Kirsten is a Business Administration student, and is also completing a minor in Biomedical Physiology. She is most excited to learn about how she can combine her two interests in response to community health challenges and is also very excited to be working with like-minded individuals the Health Change Lab. Normally, people find her hanging out in her favourite room of any home – the kitchen! Kirsten loves spending time with her family and friends, preferably surrounded by some delicious food and fresh air.

Jesika Kula

Jesika Kula is a second-year SIAT student who volunteers her time serving as the Creative Director of the MetamorepHIIT Fitness Society: a non-profit organization that provides free fitness to the community. When she’s not volunteering, she enjoys travelling, hiking and working part-time as a lifeguard. Jesika is looking forward to participating in this years SFU Health Change Lab cohort, as she’s interested in learning hands-on approaches to addressing health issues within the city of Surrey.

Stephanie Lam

Stephanie Lam is entering her 4th year in the Faculty of Health Sciences in September. As the President of UNICEF SFU and Project Pulse Vancouver, she has a passion for humanitarian efforts that foster education among young people. In her free time, Stephanie likes to get involved with medical research and staying active. Stephanie is most excited to learn about the different ways business and entrepreneurship could be used to create positive change within health care.

Sophia Knowles

A creative, driven, and people-oriented individual, Sophia is most in her groove when collaborating with others who also intend to build healthier and more environmentally sustainable communities. Four years into her degree in Health Sciences, Sophia’s studies have been complemented by recent project development and management in clinical and academic research, outdoor, and classroom settings. Sophia looks forward to developing practical strategies in Health Change Lab that work towards one of her guiding beliefs: that the most effective and meaningful change is led by those directly affected. When Sophia is recharging, you’ll most likely find her holed up with her sewing machine or running one of her favourite mountainside trails.

Zeen Liu

Zeen has been an undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University since 2012. He is studying Kinesiology as his major. Throughout his degree, he has been helping people achieve their health and fitness goals in a variety of settings, including: rehabilitation, occupational support, performance, and general population. He currently works for the SFU Recreation Centre as a weight room supervisor and personal trainer. Zeen is looking forward to taking his kinesiology knowledge into to Health Change Lab to further his ambition of improving the physical and mental health of individuals on a community level.

Emma McFarlane

Emma is entering her fifth-year of undergraduate studies at SFU. Beginning her post-secondary education at Western University, she has woven her way through various areas of study, creating a unique collection of interests and skills. Now a declared Health Science and Business Administration student, Emma is excited to work with the diverse backgrounds of other students and their communities to explore social change in Health Change Lab. She hopes to one day play an influential role in developing public health projects and sees this opportunity as an incredible starting point. Born and raised on Vancouver’s North Shore, Emma loves to enjoy all her beautiful backyard has to offer and works hard to take any opportunity possible to see more of the world.

Josh McGee

Josh is a UX (User Experience) designer who has a passion for human-centered design: a process that starts with a specific group of people and ends with new solutions that are tailored to suit their needs. Josh enjoys discovering pain points through research, empathy, and countless different approaches and frameworks. He looks forward to Health Change Lab being multi-disciplinary. With this, he will get to see how students from different academic backgrounds tackle similar problems. He believes this will push him to develop new skill sets that he can later apply to future projects.

Henry Tran

Henry is in his fourth-year at SFU studying towards a major in Behavioural Neuroscience and a minor in English. This summer, he is doing an Undergraduate Student Research Award with Dr. Chris Kennedy from the Biology department. Outside of school, he works with the BC Cancer Agency and Royal Columbian Hospital supporting two projects: one for the Hereditary Cancer Program, and another for the Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Quality Improvement Project. Aside from all of that hustle and bustle, Henry is looking forward to learning about social entrepreneurship – and hopefully, be able to develop and implement a project with his peers that could create social change in the city of Surrey.

Wendy Zhang

Wendy is a fourth-year student at SFU studying Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. She is interested in biotechnology and pharmacy, and she hopes to bring a technical laboratory perspective to Health Change Lab. She is excited to learn about ways that students with interdisciplinary ideas and perspectives can come together to address challenging, systemic problems in the community.

Monique Sekhon

Monique Sekhon is pursuing her undergraduate studies in Population & Quantitative Health Sciences at SFU. Throughout her degree so far, Monique has gained many skills and has had the opportunity to conduct research and other work in interdisciplinary teams. Monique hopes to bring to her ideas, her experience in social enterprise, and her recognition of intersectional socioeconomic factors to the Health Change Lab. She is keen to work alongside current and future leaders in the health care field!

Nathan Lam

Nathan Lam is a fourth-year student at SFU’s School of Interactive Arts & Technology finishing his degree in design. He has worked in the industry as a User Experience Designer and understands the importance of looking beyond solely technological design to address real human needs and problems. He is passionate and driven by the interdisciplinary path he has taken, and he aspires to be a mentor to others inside and outside of his industry. He looks forward to sharing his knowledge, his unique perspectives, and his expertise with his peers in Health Change Lab this fall.

Nancy Nguyen

Nancy is a fifth-year Health Science student interested in health policy, community engagement, and working with marginalized communities to improve health and well-being. She is most excited to work collaboratively with other students and stakeholders to implement ideas that could address real-world challenges in the Surrey community.

We’re Hiring! SFU Change Lab – INSTRUCTOR

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Applications are now closed. Thank you for your interest.

RADIUS SFU is seeking an experienced, energetic program instructor for the Spring 2018 Semester. This position will hold primary responsibility for delivery of the Spring 2018 SFU Civic Innovation Change Lab program (a partnership of RADIUS SFU @ the Beedie School of Business, CityStudio Vancouver & SFU Centre for Dialogue) for 20 students.

The instructor will also be expected to attend several planning meetings, and shadow portions of the Fall 2017 Change Lab program, as part of preparation.


Sept. 2017 – April 30th, 2018.

  • 3 days per week on average, for 13 week semester from January-April 2018, and
  • Approx. 6 planning meetings and/or shadowing sessions in Fall 2017.


Spring 2018 sessions will be split between:

  • CityStudio Vancouver (1800 Spyglass Place, Vancouver), and
  • RADIUS SFU, Charles Chang Innovation Centre (308 W Hastings, Vancouver).


$18,000- $21,000 commensurate with experience


Based at the Beedie School of Business, RADIUS SFU is Simon Fraser University’s social innovation lab and venture incubator. RADIUS operates a variety of programs in support of a vibrant social entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem at SFU and in Metro Vancouver, including the Change Lab program for SFU students.

Change Lab is a full term, cross-disciplinary and experiential studio program where students work with community to understand a social problem and develop a social venture response. In Spring 2018 the program is being run in conjunction with CityStudio.

CityStudio Vancouver  is an experimentation and innovation hub for the City of Vancouver where City staff, experts and students from 6 universities and colleges co-create projects that support city programs. Since 2011, CityStudio has engaged over 3000 students, 113 faculty and 60 City of Vancouver staff, contributing 156 projects and over 75,000 hours of skills training and public sector innovation towards Vancouver’s Greenest City, Engaged City and Healthy City Strategies. These projects offer unconventional solutions to improve our city.

We are building the next generation of changemakers and active city builders.  Our 10 year vision is to create City Hall in the model of a “Teaching Hospital” with universities and other cities in the practice of collaborative city building.

Civic Innovation Change Lab, Spring 2018

A partnership between RADIUS SFU @ the Beedie School of Business, CityStudio Vancouver & SFU Centre for Dialogue

This position is responsible for leading the Spring 2018 term of the SFU Change Lab, titled “Civic Innovation Change Lab”.  Civic Innovation refers to a method that improves the lives of citizens, the functions of cities, the practice of citizenship, or the state of community affairs. This course brings together bright, innovative students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to collaborate with the City of Vancouver on civic problems and experiments.

The program relies upon an arc of learning based in Dialogue, Design Thinking, and Business Model Development, supported by knowledge of Civic Issues and Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship to allow students to become capable of producing impactful social innovations in cities. The curriculum delivery model is applied and experiential. The instructor will be responsible for delivering the core experience for the cohort throughout the term, and will be supported by supplemental modules delivered by others. Training and support will be provided.

Sessions are a mix of hands on workshops, coaching by instructors and experts, content delivery by the instructor, guest speakers, and open work time in teams to advance ideas. Participants work in teams to understand a Civic Innovation related challenge as presented by City of Vancouver staff at CityStudio, then develop and test an innovative, venture-based response. Teams will present to partner panels for feedback mid term, and be given the opportunity to connect with community and City partners and leaders to help build ideas connected to the realities of our communities, and possibly to see those ideas proceed in the real world. The experiential learning cycle is core to the course pedagogy, emphasizing iterative cycles of learning, action and reflection.

  • The course runs Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:30am – 3:30pm with additional project coaching sessions Thursday afternoons from 1:30pm – 4:30pm.
  • Portions of weekly studio time are open work periods for students, allowing instructors to utilize some class time for preparation and other course related work.

Term Length Challenge

The central framework for skills development and learning is a team based social venture design project, seeking to demonstrate how entrepreneurial approaches to civic challenges may unlock new possibilities. The instructor will be primarily responsible for ensuring students receive adequate and individualized project coaching for this work, but external mentors may be recruited as well.

Who we are looking for:

  • Confidence with design thinking and business model development aspects of course.
  • Experience as an instructor and with experience in, or keenly interested in, new ways of teaching in an experiential and studio-based environment.
  • Motivated by creating impact through the learning of students, and responding to their needs. Comfortable with student energy and activity in studio environment.
  • Equal parts confident, curious and collaborative.
  • Highly organized, detail oriented and self-directed.
  • High standard in time management, organization and communication.
  • Responsible, reliable and able to work in a dynamic and creative team environment.
  • Energetic, open-hearted and kind.
  • Comfortable with responding quickly to changing tasks and priorities.
  • Experience in Civic Innovation and/or Civic Engagement is an additional asset.
  • Masters degree or higher preferred

Responsibilities and Deliverables

  • Attendance at specific Fall 2017 Health Change Lab class sessions at SFU Surrey and/or RADIUS SFU to get a feel for how the program is run.
  • Participate in Civic Innovation Change Lab planning sessions during fall 2017.
  • Finalize design and delivery components in advance of the start of Spring 2018 Civic Innovation Change Lab.
  • Deliver curricular and experiential components of program (with support from additional speakers/presenters/facilitators for certain components).
  • Coach 20 students in 5 teams on social venture development projects over the term.
  • Liaise with external partners to support project development, with support of CityStudio and RADIUS SFU.
  • Provide 1-1 mentoring, and read and respond to individual student reflection journals.
  • Assist students with preparing for public presentations of outcomes.
  • Organize course documentation.
  • Complete grading and feedback, with support of CityStudio and RADIUS SFU staff.

Supervision and Communications

  • The Instructor will report to a RADIUS SFU team member responsible for the program.
  • Communications and requests from RADIUS SFU and CityStudio staff will be given priority and responded to within a working day.
  • The Instructor is expected to participate in monthly team meetings and events as feasible.

Application Details

  • Please include full name and “Change Lab Instructor Application” in subject of the email and submit cover letter, teaching portfolio or examples, and resume to:
  • Applications are now closed. Thank you for your interest.

Student Blog | Justine Taesa Recaps Change Lab International: Ecuador

By | Change Lab, Quito, RADIUS Edu | No Comments

Guest blogger Justine Taesa is a student in the Summer 2017 semester of Change Lab International: Ecuador – a unique, interdisciplinary program in global social entrepreneurship delivered by RADIUS, the Beedie School of Business, Impaqto Quito and Insight Global Education

“Change Lab Ecuador?”

I stared at the words that I hastily scribbled into my notebook, as I had been running late into class and just caught the last bit of the presentation. I was looking for something different from my usual life in Vancouver, as well as some form of direction I could take my education. I had no idea what social innovation was, where this program would take me, or why I felt so compelled to go, but I applied the following night.

Fast forward 6 months, and here I am! I am now currently living in Quito, while learning and discovering the world of social innovation. None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t caught that last minute of the presentation, decided to apply for a program I knew little about, or made the decision to leave my work contract 2 months early to be here.

It is safe to say that I do not regret my decision one bit. Since arriving here in Ecuador, I have felt right at home. I have already had the opportunity to make some amazing connections and friendships. In addition, I have been extremely fortunate to be paired with a great company through ImpaQto – the social enterprise incubator partnered with RADIUS and Insight Global Education.

At the start of the program, all of the students were matched with an entrepreneur to assist with their start-up projects. We were to provide assistance in any way that we could, while learning about the process of starting a business. We were all extremely lucky to get our first or second choice in who we wanted to work with. I was paired with BionicsTech, a company that has developed a fully functioning bionic hand, which would be available at a fraction of the price of those already on the market. The BionicsTech entrepreneurs themselves are still learning about how to market and turn their product into a business, and I have the opportunity to assist in the project’s growth.

Despite my not being a business student, they are excited to receive input from a different perspective, while also gaining assistance in the communications department. So far, I have been doing a lot of translating, while also editing applications for grants and conferences in English. Through this work, I have learned a lot about the complexity of the entrepreneurial process. It is incredibly inspiring to work with this team of talented and dedicated entrepreneurs.

However, this trip has definitely not been solely about work! On the weekends we have many opportunities to go about and explore. Between the activities on the coast, the Andes and the Amazon, there’s no shortage of places to go. Last weekend, our entire cohort took a trip to Baños, a small mountain town that is the centre of adventure tourism here. The magic of Baños is hard to describe- but just imagine colourful streets, towering mountains, and abundance of friendly travelers.

Not only did we get to experience the lush plant life in the wilderness, but we also had the opportunity to zipline right over some truly unique views of the Andes, flying hundreds of feet over the ground. A few of us then went to the Pailon Del Diablo, a massive, thundering waterfall that we were able to climb up behind and get soaked.

On our final day in Baños, our luck with the weather had run out and the rain had set back in. However, this did not stop us from getting out to see the famous Casa Del Arbol, which features a massive swing overlooking the Tungurangua volcano. Unfortunately, the fog was too thick to see much of the mountains, but the swing was exhilarating nonetheless. We left Baños feeling the abundance of good vibes from the city, ready for another work week in Quito.

I don’t know where the rest of this trip will take me – both work wise and travel wise, but I look forward to every opportunity I get. I am excited to explore everything I possibly can throughout Ecuador.

SFU Changemakers are in Oxford for the Global Challenge Finals!

By | Change Lab, Events, RADIUS Edu | No Comments

After rising to the top of the Simon Fraser University and Canadian national rounds of the Oxford Global Challenge, a team of SFU undergraduates – comprising Change Lab alumni Alec Yu and Iman Baharmand (Faculty of Science) and Kimberley Venn (Beedie School of Business) – are headed to the Saïd Business School to compete in the Global Challenge Finals! The team, accompanied by RADIUS Co-Director Shawn Smith, will be competing with thirteen other finalists from institutions around the world in front of an international panel of judges.

We caught up with the SFU team before they set off for Oxford to ask what they had learned as undergrads that had allowed them to succeed as changemakers. Here’s what they had to say:

Iman Baharmand | We are usually encouraged to ask questions but I think we are naturally scared to question our own decisions. The most important thing I learned as an undergrad is that you will have days when you doubt yourself and ask if ‘this’ is even something you want to pursue. But you shouldn’t neglect these thoughts – you should acknowledge them, reflect on them and talk about them with people who are close to you!

Kimberley Venn | I think the importance of recognizing strengths and weaknesses and knowing when to ask for help is underrated in the innovation process. What I have learned in my undergrad experience is that change can’t be made alone. Being a part of interdisciplinary teams and reaching out to others allows us to develop areas we lack knowledge, create friendships, and in the end, become better innovators.

Alec Yu | It really helps to be a jack-of-all-trades, or to work with a close-knit interdisciplinary team, or both. Stagnant and inefficient systems are often deeply rooted within organizations or societies, and it takes expertise in fields that may seem disparate at first to have the leverage to accelerate change.

The RADIUS community wishes Alec, Iman and Kimberly the best of luck in the Global Challenge Finals on May 1st! We look forward to following their remarkable achievements as they continue with their academic and professional journeys.

The Fall semester of Health Change Lab – an interdisciplinary, once-in-a-degree studio course that allows students to develop practical solutions to real-world challenges – is currently accepting applications. Learn more here.

Speed Friending & West Coast Woodpickers Awarded Social Innovation Seed Funding

By | Funding, RADIUS Edu, Social Innovation | No Comments

The SFU Student Social Innovation Seed Fund is a joint initiative of RADIUS and Embark that supports radical change endeavours with social and environmental impact at their core. Funding amounts ranging from $200-$1000 are currently available for SFU graduate and undergraduate student social innovators. The deadline for the current round of funding is February 6th 2017 – apply now!

The Social Innovation Seed Fund Committee recently awarded funding to two exciting new student initiatives: Speed Friending and West Coast Woodpickers!

Read about both projects in their founders’ own words below:

Speed Friending events will gather people together in central community locations to complete speed rounds of meeting and connecting with each other through a series of activities and conversations.  The purpose of these events is to connect people from different backgrounds (intergenerational, cultural, socioeconomic) to form valuable friendships and engage people who may not normally have the opportunity to interact with one another in a meaningful way.

Ashley Kwon, the founder of the Speed Friending events, is an SFU Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology graduate student and she works full-time in health promotion for a local health authority.

West Coast Woodpickers is a start-up project dedicated to upcycling unused wood materials into beautiful, west-coast souvenirs. We hope to provide a sustainable, locally-made, and locally-sourced alternative for intrepid adventurers and tourists looking for a memento of their visit to the beautiful west coast of British Columbia!

Michelle Chen and James Wiltshire are graduating students within the Faculty of Environment at Simon Fraser University, with an affinity for sustainability and a love of woodworking.

Find West Coast Woodpickers online on Facebook, Twitter and their website (in progress). Read More

Chicken Soup Friends (or, why we built the RADIUS Fellowship Program)

By | Fellows, Food for thought, RADIUS Edu | One Comment

Jenn McRae built and piloted the RADIUS Fellowships in Radical Doing program, which wrapped up its second annual cohort this summer under the leadership of RADIUS Lead Educator Tamara Connell. Here, Jenn tells the origin story behind the Fellows program, and shares some of what we’ve learned so far. Feature image above and last three images by Fellow and pro photographer Jackie Dives.

It was a Friday night. I was at home, lying on the couch watching an episode of who knows what through barely open eyes. I was exhausted. Around 3am that morning, I’d gotten in a cab and taken myself to the Emergency Room. I was, the ER doctor told me, having a gallbladder attack (nice ring to it, eh?). Everything turned out just fine but I had to cancel some meetings on Friday and get some rest.

The knock on my front door startled me from my barely conscious state on the couch. When I peaked through the window before answering, I saw Charles, my (then) boss and friend standing there with something in his hands. When our eyes met through the window, he gave me a big grin and a little wave. I opened the door, and he said “I just wanted to make sure you are ok. And I made you some chicken soup so you feel better.”

I think I just stood and stared at him. I could feel a whole complex gaggle of emotions welling up in my throat. On the verge of tears, I stammered out some underwhelming version of “thanks” and invited him in. He gave me another hug and said he could not stay and told me to call if I needed anything.

Paul Born’s Deepening Community, our “Chicken Soup Friends”


February 2015 opening retreat for the first Fellows cohort on Bowen Island

Many months later, when I had moved on to work at RADIUS, Charles gifted me with a book by Paul Born called Deepening Community. Born posits  that deep communities — the kind where you trust one another and share stories, spend time together regularly, commit mutual acts of caring that lead to strong bonds and greater collective resiliency —  are the kinds of communities that enable us to do the difficult work of building a better world together.  Charles and I came to call the kinds of friendships and connections Born describes “Chicken Soup Friends.”

At that time, I was building RADIUS’ first leadership program for young changemakers. Born’s framework became central to my thinking in this endeavour. I’d even go so far as to say my ultimate goal was to build a network of Chicken Soup Friends. Now, you can’t really tell a funder “I want to build you a cohort of chicken soup friends!” and leave it at that. So we went deep on the research on social isolation, network theory, the livelihoods and career trajectories of impact-oriented young people, and gaps in the higher education system. We framed the program like this:

The RADIUS Fellowship program will bring together the next generation of untamed social entrepreneurs and innovators from SFU and the Lower Mainland who have demonstrated remarkable accomplishment in their pursuits and a relentless dedication to creating impact in all they do. Intended to identify, profile, support and catalyze these emerging Radical Doers, the Fellowships will provide the community, mentorship and tools needed to create deep social impact and pursue work with purpose.

What’s this got to do with Social Impact?

What we were really up to though was an experiment in deep community building, in ‘networking networks’. But why? Why are Chicken Soup Friends so valuable and what do they have to do with social impact?

I could write you a long listicle about the dozens of reasons why these kinds of deep social bonds are crucial to doing social change work, why they are so important that I would frame an entire program around the generation of deep community, but it really comes down to one big reason: connections like these make us resilient. Read More

Two Student Groups Receive Seed Funding to End 2015-2016 Cycle

By | Funding, RADIUS Edu, Social Innovation | One Comment

The SFU Student Social Innovation Fund, a collaboration between RADIUS and Embark, provides project funding of up to $1000. Applications are now closed but will open again for the 2016-2017 school year! Stay posted for our next fund availability announcement in the fall.

The Social Innovation Seed Fund Committee awarded funding to two exciting new student initiatives at the end of the 2015-2016 cycle, closing out our seed funding allocation for this school year on a high note. We are pleased to showcase these forthcoming projects – CityHive and Socks for Change!

The project teams write:

CityHive is an emerging youth-led, Vancouver-based organization empowering youth to influence, shape, and co-create their cities. Our three pillars are advocacy, education, and empowerment. We will advocate for the inclusion of youth in planning decisions in cities, organizations and institutions. We will educate and empower youth in getting involved in civic issues. We envision a Vancouver where youth are fully engaged in the planning, design and creation of their cities. CityHive will be the go-to-convener for youth on urban issues in the city.

Tesicca and Veronika are the dynamic duo behind CityHive. Read More

Changemakers Are All Around Us

By | Funding, RADIUS Edu, Social Innovation | No Comments

Hello! Remember us? Yes, we’re the guys who interviewed some amazing local changemakers around the Vancouver area to inspire others to do good in their field of work.

Well, how did it go?

We could not be happier with how it went! In the course of a week, we were able to film 6 interviews with some of Vancouver’s amazing changemakers. I could not of imagined how incredible our interviewees’ stories would be. Ajay Puri, our amazing host, did a great job creating an open and engaging space for the interviewees to talk about what they do, why they do that work, and how their work impacts their communities. And yes, there was chai. We shared masala chai homemade by Ajay himself, and it was delicious. The interviews lasted about an hour and a half, and we will be cutting them down to around 10 minutes.

Who are these changemakers?

As I mentioned in our last blog, we started off by interviewing Ashok Puri, an elderly South Asian man who travels all across the world staying with locals rather than in hotels. His story of overcoming fear and realizing the best way to experience countries is with the locals was a beautiful start to our journey. He left us with a great message that retirement is not the end but the start of a new chapter. Read More