How can we stimulate more social and scientific innovation? How can we position ourselves to be good partners with local communities? And how can we better prepare students and the communities we serve for the accelerated change in our society?
Those are just some of the questions that were posed to students, faculty, staff, governors, alumni and community members in Sudbury, Temiskaming Shores, Ottawa, and Sault Ste. Marie during eight electronic brainstorming sessions and a series of consultations that took place in March and April as part of Laurentian University’s strategic planning process.
As the nature of work continues to change in the rapidly evolving global economy, Ontario needs to adapt and to find innovative ways to create opportunities amid the uncertainty.
As part of Ontario’s Universities #futuring campaign and the university’s #imagine2023 initiative, Laurentian is taking on the task of reimagining the future, and wants to partner with students, faculty, government, the private sector and community members in a collaborative approach.
“We want to help make a positive impact on our communities in a changing and challenging environment,” said Dr. Ted Hewitt, President and CEO of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
With northern Ontario’s strong connection to Indigenous and francophone populations, Laurentian is looking to partners to address local needs and strengthen communities.
There was an overall feeling that university-based research will help shape a brighter future and universities are accelerating social and scientific innovation.
The idea of bringing life to learning was a reoccurring theme, and gaining experiential learning opportunities to help find meaningful work after graduation remained a top priority amongst students, alumni and community members.
Dr. Linda Ambrose, Special Advisor to the President at Laurentian, said the university is hearing a lot during its consultations on the future about the benefits of expanding opportunities for students to apply their skills in real-world experiences, an idea that participants from various faculties and disciplines are calling for.
Rachel Beals, Policy Analyst for the Northern Policy Institute, went on to say that, “students need the appropriate resources and opportunities that will help match their skills to the market.”
Participants said that, when planning for the future, jobs aren’t the only focus.
Dr. Janet Morrison, Provost and Vice-President, Academic at Sheridan College, stressed the importance of building resilience in students. Adaptability, she said, and continued learning, will set graduates up for a better future.
Imagining the role each member of society can play in building a brighter future isn’t easy, which is why universities like Laurentian are collaborating and engaging with a wide range of sectors. The discussions are ongoing and Laurentian encourages others to join the conversation on social media using #imagine2023.
Ontario’s universities want to be partners in creating a brighter future and are eager to hear your thoughts about how we can do so. You can share your ideas by filling out our survey or writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The #futuring conversation is always taking place online, so be sure to connect with us and have your say in building a better future for Ontario.