Leaping Outside the Box: Civic Innovation Change Lab

| Spring 2019 HUBBUB 12 Winners: Macrame Salon |

The Civic Innovation Change Lab (CICL) is a once-in-a-degree experiential learning program that brings together students from all faculties at SFU and sometimes beyond. The program centres around five pedagogical approaches: civic innovation, entrepreneurship, user-centred design, dialogue, and personal transformation. 

This 9-credit program brings together undergraduate students from a multitude of academic backgrounds to work in interdisciplinary teams on real-world social, economic, and environmental challenges within Vancouver neighbourhoods. The projects address these challenges through creative and sustainable interventions that they present at HUBBUB, and elsewhere in the community. The outcomes go beyond the tangible projects that the students produce, as the students develop their personal and professional capacities throughout the course. This immersive experience has and continues to take students outside of the classroom and into the real world to view current issues through multidisciplinary lenses.

The 2020 Civic Innovation Change Lab cohort will be exploring the theme of Neighbourhood Resilience. They begin with an immersion in the current situations and priorities of the City. Then student groups explore the problem of a particular community or group, before prototyping potential entrepreneurial solutions. With rich context shared by City of Vancouver staff regarding current challenges in Vancouver, the students finish the program with sustainable entrepreneurial interventions that aim to weave resiliency into the fabric of local neighbourhoods.

Application Deadline for Spring 2020: November 24th, 2019.

Don’t just take our word for it! 

Here’s what some of the alumni had to say about their Change Lab experience… 

Spring 2018 Project: The Coop

“If you’re ready to push yourself personally, professionally, and academically; if you’d like to be wholeheartedly engaged in learning; if you want to experience purposeful group work and eye-opening discussions with similarly passionate peers, then this program is for you.

Change Lab was infinitely the best learning experience of my undergraduate degree and here’s what makes it so special: Change Lab puts emphasis on having small, interdisciplinary cohorts. The entire semester is based around practical-project based work, and because you’re trying to address social challenges, it is extremely beneficial to have various points of view from students in different faculties. Every week you’ll have dialogue sessions where you’ll learn something new and have your beliefs challenged, which will ultimately push you to be more critically and open-minded.

Your cohort of 20 students also gets three instructors. This means you’re basically getting a mentor who will help you develop personally and academically for four months. These are things you just don’t get in a regular degree, and I personally found them to be invaluable to my personal growth.

Change Lab also uses an experiential learning model – but what does that mean? It means that instead of just learning theory from a textbook and writing exams, you get to apply your learnings directly through your project. These projects aren’t just writing reports either – you get to go out and engage with real people in the community in an effort to solve real social, environmental, and civic challenges. In the end, you walk away with so much more than a grade. You may walk away with a purpose that changes your life, great friends you may never have met, or a project that could very well lead your next job or startup idea. I couldn’t be more grateful for my experience in Change Lab – I don’t think you’ll regret it either.”

Eliane Bowden – Civic Innovation Change Lab 2018 – The Coop project

“Change Lab is unlike any school experience I’ve had. The immersive learning experience and the opportunity to connect and engage more with my community had both personal and community value. I think education would only benefit from more approaches like Change Lab, especially since innovation and creative thinking is more and more encouraged. The experience helps to nurture and encourage students beyond an academic setting, and to apply integrative thinking through understanding sustainable business practices, social impact, and environmental wellbeing.” 

Student – 2019 Civic Innovation Change Lab

“Change Lab is a life-changing experience where you get to develop an idea pertaining to something you’re passionate about and you also get the chance to work on your own personal development goals.” 

Student – 2019 Civic Innovation Change Lab


Hear more from former students on Vimeo

Spring 2019 Project:  Reconciliation Calls
Spring 2018 Project: Wellbe

Spring 2019 Project: Rentability