The Office of Social Innovation is showcasing its new student-led programs and resources
The Ryerson Office of Social Innovation (OSI) is hosting an official launch Monday. The event will celebrate the past year of restructuring and will promote the new services available to aspiring changemakers.
The OSI, which has been in operation since 2016, is taking a student-focused approach to creating sustainable social change. Access to new grants will allow it to expand opportunities for students who want to embark on socially innovative projects.
Executive director Melanie Panitch said that this structure encourages participation from multiple disciplines and is a perfect fit within the innovative and entrepreneurial community at Ryerson.
“It’s hard to frame social innovation as its own entity because … it is focused on looking at a multitude of existing structures that need to be poked at and challenged,” Panitch said.
One OSI resource that will be offered in the coming year is Mapping the System. This co-curricular program aims to help students explore their area of interest and delve into the intricacies of social issues.
“[Mapping the system] doesn’t ask students to deliver a solution, it solely challenges students to understand and communicate a systemic social or environmental issue,” said Jessica Machado, programs and events co-ordinator at the OSI. “The program is a really great way of helping students to challenge their own biases and assumptions.”
Also available through the office is a minor in social innovation. Bilqees Mohamed, a fourth-year social work student, is part of the first cohort in this minor. She said that the classes have helped evolve her idea of social innovation to a more grassroots approach that focuses on giving power to marginalized communities.
She has used her education and support from the OSI to launch BadGal Media — a magazine that showcases the voices of women and girls of colour. She and her publishing partner, Sahar Khan, are aiming to expand their mandate and offer media skills programming for young women of colour in Toronto.
“I want to equip communities with the resources and tools to create their own sustainable future,” said Mohamed.
She also said she encourages students with a passion for change in any discipline to get involved with the new resources at the OSI.
“I think right now in their relaunch, [the OSI] is trying to really foster the student engagement element and make services more accessible.”