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Our 2023 Annual Impact Report Launched!

Posted Sept 19, 2023


As we reflect on the events of 2023, one word encapsulates the essence of our journey: transformation. The tumultuous times of recent years have not only tested our resilience but also inspired us to reimagine the role of higher education and its potential to drive positive social change.

We've embraced the designation of "changemaker campus" to re-envision the role of higher education in society. In a world clouded by complex systems and self-centric norms, we recognize the need to shift focus from "me" and "now" to "us" and "tomorrow." This shift is our wayfinding strategy through the current polycrisis, where academia must lead the charge in shaping a brighter future.


Shaping a better tomorrow through learning and innovation

In this year's Annual Report, we showcase our efforts across three thematic fronts:

  1. Learning in the service of understanding and provoking SYSTEMS CHANGE
  2. Learning in the service of imagining and building TOMORROW’S ECONOMY
  3. Learning in the service of designing SOCIAL PURPOSE TECHNOLOGY.


Systems Change and Tomorrow’s Economy with Students 

Our co-curricular programs have continued to support students to learn and apply system thinking to explore complex social issues.

15 universities and colleges across Canada took part in Map The System: Athabaska, Concordia, St. Mark’s/Corpus Christie, HEC Montreal, Humber, Memorial, Mount Royal, Royal Roads, Toronto Metropolitan, Laurier, and the Universities of Alberta, British Columbia, Calgary, Sherbrooke and Waterloo. The MTS submissions show system analysis of a variety of topics from student success at postsecondary schools, sex health education to nursing shortages, physician shortages, sustainable energy, and regenerative agriculture. This demonstrates higher education’s values of system thinking skills and collaboration with students in addressing complex social problems.

  • Systems Map 1
  • System Map 2
  • System Map 3
  • System Map 4
  • System Map 5

System analysis by the Top 5 Canadian universities (MTS Canada, 2023)


11 MRU students, working alongside faculty mentors and community partners, successfully completed Catamount, a cohort-based program that provides meaningful community-engaged research experiences. Their efforts have created a collection of 11 comprehensive reports that delve into a diverse range of pressing issues and offer innovative solutions. 



Scholarly reports created by the 2022-2023 Catamount Student Fellows

Additionally, around 200 students participated in the SDG Hub, a student club at MRU, which focuses on activating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on campus. Rebranding into the Student Changemaker Network, the club will continue to focus on building commitment to the SDGs, including a new SDG Labs program, an immersive 6-week experiential learning program designed to enable students with the knowledge, skills, and actionable strategies to launch their own MRU initiatives to make sustainable change.



Image from the SDG Hub


Community Engaged Research and Systems Change

Our efforts extend to addressing pressing issues and trends with 25 publications, from environmental scanning, and young adults in Alberta, to social innovation and civil society. Featured 2022-2023 publications and collaborations include:

Diagnosing the Social Innovation Challenge in Universitiesby Executive Director James Stauch, is a thought-provoking piece that explores the challenges universities face in embracing social impact.

The 2023 Environmental Scan, The Age of Rage, delves into various topics, including economics, politics, civil society, climate change, technology, shifting gender norms, biodiversity, literacy, and the phenomenon of “rage farming."

Study sheds light on why young adults are leaving Alberta - and how to bring them back is an op-ed by Institute Research Fellow, Dr. David Finch, and Janet Lane, explains the three factors to bring back and keep young people in Alberta: quality of life, lifestage, and social identity.

Work to Live: Alberta youth mobility. David Finch with Janet Lane explore reasons and root causes of why young adults are leaving Alberta and suggests some recommendations to tackle the issue.

Coming soon

  • Some exciting research that we started last year will be published in the upcoming Fall semester:
    • Accessing Canada: A Scan of Issues, Trends, System Dynamics, and Innovations in Accessibility sheds light on accessibility challenges for those with disabilities.
    • Dandelion Story chronicles the journey of Calgary Reads and the Institute's partnership, shedding light on the intersection of knowledge, action, systems thinking, and social problems. 


Workshops and Presentations

Beyond our research output, Institute team members actively engage with our community, participating in a diverse range of 25 community and scholarly events. This active involvement allows us to effectively communicate our findings to a broader audience, including practitioners, citizens, and academics. We ensure that our work not only contributes to the scholarly discourse but also addresses the practical needs of our community and society as a whole.

Introduction to Systems Thinking (James Stauch, MTS Webinar Speaker)

Social Impact Lab: Responsible Disruption Podcast(James Stauch, Podcast Guest)

Visual Storytelling in Map The System Canada 2023 (Ashley Dion and Amy Rintoul, MTS Webinar Speaker)

Silvera for Seniors, Calgary Seniors’ Summit (James Stauch, Panelist)

ChatGPT & How it just changed the game for the social sector (James Stauch, Panelist)

Solutions Café, AB Seed and Centre for Social Impact Tech (Megan Davidson, Host)

Changemaker Research and Education Forum (James Stauch, Presenter)

Diagnosing the Social Innovation Challenge in Universities(James Stauch, presenter)



As we celebrate our accomplishments, we extend our deepest gratitude to our partners, donors, students, and employees. Without your support, none of this would be possible. Together, we have embarked on a transformative journey, redefining the role of higher education in driving positive social change. Our Annual Report is a testament to our commitment to building a brighter, more prosperous future for all.

The world may be facing unprecedented challenges, but with collective effort and unwavering determination, we can create a future defined by social prosperity, sustainability, and shared success. Thank you for joining us on this incredible journey.
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