Top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top change coming to campus

MRU Changemaking Roadmap to be unveiled Jan. 15

Amazing things happen at Mount Royal University every single day, but sometimes it's without anybody except those directly involved knowing.

Changemaker Roadmap
Open House

Friday, Jan. 15 from 12 to 2:30 p.m.
EA 3001-3003

Learn more!

Aiming to break the silos of social, environmental, entrepreneurial and technical initiatives, stakeholders from across campus have been engaged in a dialogue since late summer about how everything might combine to eventually become something bigger than Mount Royal itself.

Leading the charge is Jill Andres, who has served in the position of Changemaker in Residence at Mount Royal since 2014.

"We began by identifying the goal that we wanted to work as a team, and asked what it might look like if we were to bring folks together in a really intentional way to map out a shared strategy around changemaking," Andres said.

The art of changemaking is exactly what it sounds like.

It's about recognizing and identifying a problem, and then figuring out the best way to solve it. Changemaking means that just about anything can be "fixed," as long as you go about it the right way, and the ultimate goal is to make a positive difference in the world.

"Mount Royal's campus-wide culture of changemaking inspires and empowers us to create meaningful change in partnership with communities," said Andres.
"We have 'curated' a group of about 20 people to be part of the mapping workshops, not to represent their unit or organization, per se, but to provide a variety of interested perspectives," said James Stauch, director of the Institute for Community Prosperity at Mount Royal. Using funds from the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation in the form of a RECODE grant, representatives from the Academic Development Centre (ADC), Teaching and Learning, Research, the Library, faculty, students and alumni have been working for several months on what they call the MRU Changemaker Roadmap.

The initial draft will be presented to the Mount Royal community at an Open House on Friday, Jan. 15 from 12 to 2:30 p.m. in EA 3001-3003.

The Roadmap was generated through a series of workshops employing a methodology developed by David Forrest called Integral Strategy Mapping, which produces collaborative tactics for systemic change.

This type of collective impact initiative recognizes that some issues are bigger than any one organization can take on.

"The methodology helps create a process by which we can engage the people we need with shared interests to create shared strategies," said Andres.
"When the map is done, that will be the starting point. That is where we say, 'OK, where is the possibility for action?'"

The implications and outcomes of such work are myriad, and will extend for many years down the road.

In just six months Stauch hopes that, "We will be well on our way to implementing the commitments that come out of the mapping process, and also have confirmation of high-level admin support and buy-in.

"I also expect that we will be well into the Ashoka Changemaker Campus accreditation process, which is a likely result and accompaniment to the roadmap process and outcome."

A five-year goal for tangible outcomes is new programming and a range of new supports for students and community-campus interaction to be in place. And in 10 years?

"Mount Royal will have had a transformative effect on what the utility of a university means for a community," said Stauch.

"Our alumni will be assuming key leadership roles in government, community groups, movements, in social purpose business and other change-focused entities in far greater numbers. We will be nationally recognized as the place in Canada for undergrads to go if they want to change the worldNew Changemaker in Residence ― Walter Hossli

Walter Hossli - Changemaker in Residence
Walter Hossli is the Institute for Community Prosperity's newest Changemaker in Residence. ~ Photo supplied

The Institute for Community Prosperity recently welcomed their newest Changemaker in Residence, a Mount Royal alumnus and local expert on community economic development. A graduate of the Social Work Diploma and the Non-Profit Management Certificate programs, Walter Hossli epitomizes the three learning themes that define the focus of the Institute: philanthropy, social innovation and transformative leadership.

Hossli is the founding Executive Director and current Director Emeritus of Momentum, an award-winning Calgary organization that works mainly with disadvantaged communities and low-income people.

"We do economic development from the ground up versus what it usually is…from the top down," said Hossli. "We have used business development, trades training and financial literacy as the key practical expressions of what community economic development actually means."

Financial literacy is giving people the information they need to understand about living within their means. Trades training provides access to people who have to overcome hurdles to make it in to the apprenticeship system, and business development helps break down the barriers low income people may come across when trying to start a venture.

Momentum also provides micro-lending and support services as a comprehensive approach to starting and running a micro-business.

"We know that people who run a business tend to do better financially than people who don't, because the system is favourable towards entrepreneurs. But often it's a smaller percentage of low-income people who actually start businesses," said Hossli.

"I'm a strong believer in being a facilitative leader and bringing people to the table."

Once an architectural technician, Hossli says he tired of working with "stuff" rather than human beings, and that he wanted to do something more meaningful with his life.

"When I think of prosperity I think of a flourishing individual and a community," he says.

At the moment, Hossli is in Belize working with non-profits involved in forest conservation. Come March, Hossli will join the Institute's existing Changemakers in Residence on campus, Jill Andres and Pat Letizia.

Discover more about Hossli's background, volunteerism and leadership work.

Jan. 11, 2016 - Michelle Bodnar