Durham College launches fifth research centre in Oshawa – the Social Innovation Hub

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Published July 26, 2021 at 8:12 pm

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With social issues from homelessness to social justice becoming more and more important to Canadians, Durham College has launched a fifth applied research centre at their Oshawa campus – the Social Impact Hub.

The Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship opened the new Social Impact Hub at a virtual event last month, alongside Durham College researchers, project partners, Durham College President Don Lovisa and John Henry, chair of The Regional Municipality of Durham.

With Canadians are paying more to ignore Canada’s housing problem than they would to fix it, inflating costs related to health care, justice and other taxpayer-funded services, socio-economic issues are becoming increasingly difficult issues to tackle. The solution, believes Lovisa, is through social innovation.

“We are committed to exploring and developing solutions to the barriers our communities face,” Lovisa explained. “The applied research being completed at Durham College underscores the importance of innovation and ingenuity, and I am excited to see how the Social Impact Hub will help address the gaps and inequalities that exist within our society through this lens.”

Over the last several years, through funded collaborations with community partners, Durham College has developed a cluster of 14 applied research projects focused on social innovation, receiving $1,324,544 in overall funding. These projects tackle everything from homelessness and mental health to equity and accessibility, training and more.

(Social innovation refers to a process, initiative or product that seeks to address a societal challenge by improving upon or redesigning the systems that make up our society. This type of work involves collective action through community partnerships, leading to valuable outcomes that benefit groups of people, not just the individual.)

Ongoing projects in this area of research include:

• Building Bridges Together: Co-production of Financial Empowerment Strategies with People Experiencing Low Income
• Innovation Through Co-production: A Holistic Approach to Supporting Social Competency in Pre-school Children
• Enriching Firefighter Training Through the Development of a Novel Virtual Reality Training Simulation for Personalized Precision, Skill and Resilience Training
• Enhancing Virtual Mentorship to Reduce Social Isolation of Youth
• Support for Parents with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

DC researchers have also completed a number of projects, including the unique co-design of a youth-led housing hub: Developing a Unique and Scalable Housing Model for Youth Living on Their Own in Durham.

By leveraging faculty expertise, student talent and strong community partnerships, researchers at the Social Impact Hub hope to continue their work to identify creative solutions to complex social challenges through leading-edge social innovation projects and initiatives.

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