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April 18, 2019Print | PDF
Wilfrid Laurier University students in Faculty of Arts courses offered through C3 Innovation Labs (C3IL) celebrated another productive school year at the C3IL Annual Showcase on Laurier’s Waterloo campus April 3. The event, sponsored by the C3IL Students' Association (C3ILSA), featured a series of student panels and course work from the 2018/19 academic year, including newly launched social ventures, research projects and the outcomes of community collaborations.
C3 Innovation Labs offers experiential learning opportunities in the arts that build relationships and create real-world impact across the three Cs: campus, city and community. Academic programming offered through C3IL includes the Community Engagement Option, the Social Entrepreneurship Option, CityStudio courses and the Capstone Urban Sustainability Project.
"Our students are well prepared to critically understand society’s most complex challenges. The programming displayed here also shows the additional steps they’ve taken to creatively engage with these issues and to make positive, real-world change."
C3ILSA president and event organizer Kamil Ahmed said the annual showcase demonstrates what is possible when inspiration, collaboration and innovation intersect.
"Laurier's C3IL community is a microcosm for what our world could be: individuals determined to address societal issues and excited about inviting others to participate in purposeful change-making," says Ahmed.
Laurier students in previous C3IL course offerings have created cutting-edge solutions to real-world problems and this year’s lineup of student-led innovation is equally impactful.
"Our students are well prepared to critically understand society’s most complex challenges," says Edmund Pries, Global Studies professor and academic director for C3IL. "The programming displayed here also shows the additional steps they’ve taken to creatively engage with these issues and to make positive, real-world change."
Laurier's Social Entrepreneurship Option provides students with a variety of opportunities to create positive and sustainable change to address contemporary issues around the world. Social ventures launched through the option’s capstone course, SE400, were on display, accompanied by their student founders turned emerging social entrepreneurs.
Economics major Jamal Khamis is stirring up change through his social venture Good Cup, which aims to replace environmentally harmful plastic cups with eco-friendly ones in the food and beverage industry. Inspired by the widespread use of reusable cups in many European countries, Khamis began research in fall 2018 on eco-friendly options for Ontario restaurateurs to use.
“To put a dent in the 9.1 billion tons of plastic waste out there, we need to change our relationship with it,” says Khamis. “Good Cup aims to do just that.”
Khamis’ venture is off to a good start. In February, he presented his research findings to the Harvey’s Franchisee Association, where his brother – who operates the family’s Guelph location – is a member. Khamis says his research demonstrated the feasibility of providing eco-friendly cups and containers in the fast-food chain’s restaurants.
The family’s Guelph location is also piloting the use of paper straws and biodegradable cutlery, with positive customer feedback thus far. Khamis says the launch of Good Cup has helped spur
Fourth-year Global Studies student Emilio Castillo took his social venture to the dogs.
Castillo founded Pups for Peace, a student-run social venture that raises awareness for landmine action and finds “fur-ever” homes in Canada for retired mine-detection dogs. The dogs, “veterans” to Castillo, are in the care of the Norwegian People’s Aid organization at their location in Sarajevo. With decreased funding for landmine action and awareness, costs associated with caring for the
“These animals have spent their lives working to protect others,” says Castillo. “They’re veterans who have served humanity and they deserve a good home to live out their retirement.”
Pups for Peace is a partner of the Canadian Landmine Foundation and the Norwegian People’s Aid. Castillo says he hopes his venture can facilitate their first adoption by fall 2019.
"Experiential learning lets me take what I’ve learned and apply it immediately to the work I’m doing in my placement. It’s learning put in practice, which is an essential experience for the transition to the workplace."
Students in C3IL’s Community Engagement (CMEG) Option reflected on their integrated learning experiences in downtown Kitchener during one of the event’s student panels.
Laurier's CMEG option fuses the theoretical frameworks of social inclusion, local democracy and community enterprise with hands-on learning in Kitchener’s downtown core.
CMEG courses are developed and delivered in partnership with local social profit organization The Working Centre. CMEG students were immersed in community placements since September, conducting research on four core-specific initiatives collaboratively proposed by The Working Centre, Laurier faculty and the City of Kitchener: commercial composting, laneway developments, safe injection sites and accessible street design.
Laurier student Fayzan Khan, whose group worked on the laneway development project, says opportunities for experience-based learning bring classroom concepts to life.
"Experiential learning lets me take what I’ve learned and apply it immediately to the work I’m doing in my placement," says Khan. "It’s learning put in practice, which is an essential experience for the transition to the workplace."
C3IL leverages partnerships established with the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge to offer its CityStudio courses and the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies’ Capstone in Urban Sustainability Project (CUSP).
In CityStudio courses, Laurier students learn alongside municipal professionals on current issues in Waterloo Region to create solutions that lead to positive change in the community.
In late November, students in SE300: Developing a Social Venture launched the city’s first-ever night market. The project, launched in collaboration with the City of Waterloo, brought together students, residents from neighbourhoods near the university and local businesses to strengthen community in a part of the city where student residents come and go throughout the year.
“Planning the night market was a great way to gain hands-on experience for the real world while working with Laurier’s community partners and our neighbours,” says Alanna MacDonald, Laurier student and night market co-organizer. “It also allowed us to start shifting the perception that some people may have around university students.”
Students in SE330B: Social Innovation in the City, another CityStudio course, engaged in a community project for the City of Kitchener. They were tasked with testing assistive software on behalf of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind at the Charles Street bus terminal in downtown Kitchener. The software, available for download on smartphones, interacts with beacons that can be placed in shops, restaurants and other public spaces to help people with vision loss successfully navigate the space.
While the group’s final report included feedback for implementing the software, the students discovered greater accessibility issues at the terminal that need to be addressed before any beacons are installed at the bus terminal.
Some students who participated in C3IL programming during the 2018/19 academic year are set to graduate later this spring. Because of his C3IL experience, Pups for Peace founder Castillo says he's prepared for life after Laurier.
“It’s a competitive job market out there and new graduates need something to set themselves apart. C3IL’s academic programming is an opportunity to do that.”
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