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Social Innovation

Understanding Social Innovation

Report: In Search of the Altruithm: AI and the Future of Social Good (Online Version)
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Authors: James Stauch, Alina Turner and Camilo Camacho Escamilla.

Anyone involved in "social good" vocations - those who care for others or share their talents and resources, from teachers, health care practitioners, and social work practitioners to social activists, philanthropists, journalists  and artists, should be deeply interested in the powerful potential of artificial intelligence (AI). While we are still years, or even decades, away from realizing the full impacts of AI, the transformation for society, and for the social sector, will be profound.  While dystopian versions of a machine-dominated future cloud the horizon, there is reason for guarded optimism.  The careful combination of machine super-intelligence with human learning, as we are seeing in many social purpose uses and fields already, has significant potential to help us solve even our most complex social and environmental challenges.  Peppered with many real-world examples of existing and in-development AI and socially-purposeful applications, this paper argues that the development of AI must not merely be ethical, but also inclusive and common-good focused.  Indeed, it is the most important existential, public policy and social goal we can possibly pursue.

Report: The Future of Social Innovation Alberta 2016

Authors: ABSI Connect Fellows (2016)

In this report, we share the richness of Albertan social innovation and the powerful and daunting patterns that shape us today. We also present pathways forward and invite us all to consider a common agenda to move forward together toward a stronger and more resilient social innovation ecosystem.

Report: Where to Begin: How social innovation is emerging across Canadian campuses

Authors: Scaled Purpose (2016)

Provides an overview of other post-secondaries that have also sought to create a support system for students and community groups involved in changemaking, social entrepreneurship and community innovation. This national and regional context has helped to inform our own direction at MRU, and we hope there are insights and lessons herein that will help others shape their own initiatives and programming, in particular co-working spaces, social venture incubators, community R&D labs and other collaborative spaces, whether on or off campus.

Student Report: Brewing Innovation: Modelling Opportune Dynamics for Social Innovation in Calgary’s Brewing Industry

Author: Zak Ismail (2015)

This paper takes a comprehensive look at the various dynamics by which socially purposed breweries create social value in a traditionally capitalist market. Taking into account these and other dynamics by which breweries can generate community prosperity, a model is developed identifying key areas where breweries have found opportunities to employ social innovation.

Presentation: Demystifying Social Innovation

Authors: James Stauch, Jill Andres (2015)

Social innovation can be an esoteric subject, cloaked in a mysterious language that excludes as many as it includes. This learning session, delivered as part of the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organization’s Connections 2015 conference, is designed to help participants a better understanding of the concepts themselves, as well as how these social innovation tools can enhance efforts to build stronger communities.

Report: If You Don’t Like the Weather: 2015 Environmental Scan

Authors: James Stauch, Jill Andres, Lesley Cornelisse and Pat Letizia (2015)

This scan serves as an overview of the major current socio-economic trends and developments, at local provincial, national and international scales, focusing on phenomena that directly impact one community foundation’s (The Calgary Foundation) interests in stewarding its financial and community investments and in nurturing a healthy, vibrant, giving and caring community. Includes sections on social innovation, social finance and related trends.


Social Enterprise in Canada

Guide:The Problem Solver's Companion: A Practitioner's Guide to Starting a Social Enterprise in Canada

Authors: Shaun Loney (2019)
Contributions from: James Stauch, Anna Johnson, Elle Griffin (2019)

 This Guidebook is for changemakers, practitioners, students and anyone interested in "social enterprise". Channeling the voice and lived experience of social entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow Shaun Loney, this is meant to serve as an approachable, easy-to-read handbook to accompany one's social enterprise journey, which is not a linear series of "steps", but rather a pattern of loops and slopes, with no clear beginning or end point. The Companion offers many tips and lessons from the field, and at many scales, from the mindset and motivations of the individual to the entire system one may be trying to shift. It contains links to many helpful resources as well as examples of social enterprises from coast to coast to coast. The Companion is co-produced with Encompass Co-op.


Research Partnership: Social Enterprise Sector Survey (SESS)

Social enterprises are social-purpose (typically non-profit) organizations that continuously engage in the market to achieve a social, cultural or environmental benefit. The Institute is engaged in a long-term research project, started in 2009, in collaboration with Simon Fraser University, to measure the size, scope, and scale of social enterprises across Canada.

Case Studies: Three Social Enterprises in Western Canada

Authors: Jill Andres, Peter Elson, Peter Hall

Mount Royal University and Simon Fraser University are among a group of Canadian post‐secondary institutions working together to classify social enterprise models in Canada. This work is a sub set of a broader initiative, International Comparative Social Enterprise Models (ICSEM), based in Liege, Belgium.

The case studies profiled here are the Namgis First Nation, Seniors Assocation of Greater Edmonton and Vecova Centre for Disability Services and Research.

Research Report: Social Enterprise Legal Structure: Options and Prospects for a ‘Made in Canada’ Solution

Authors: Sean Markey, Stacey Corriveau, Michael Cody and Brendan Bonfield, 2011

Canvasses social entrepreneurs and social economy experts with respect to the prospects and potential drawbacks associated with pursuing a separate legal structure for social enterprise in Canada.