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Social Innovation Projects

Humber’s social innovation research is focused on the area of community development. Projects in this area aim to address challenges by collaborating with community members to take collective action. Social innovation projects create opportunities for students from programs such as Addictions and Mental Health, Criminal Justice, Child and Youth Care, Research Analyst Postgraduate, Food and Nutrition Management, Social Service Worker, Developmental Service and many others across all Humber schools. Some of Humber’s facilities that support this applied research are the Conflict Resolution Simulation Lab, the Crime Lab, and the Forensic Studio.

Affordable Housing Needs in South Etobicoke


Funder: NSERC


Program: CCSIF


Researcher: Salomeh Ahmadi, Faculty of Social & Community Services


Sky-high rent, condo developments, no rent control, evictions and unstable housing are all issues standing in the way of affordable housing in South Etobicoke, Toronto, and major urban cities across the globe. The increase in cost of living coupled with a rise in rent, and stagnant wages, poses threats to those who are facing poverty, health challenges or more disfranchised populations such as students and seniors. What is the cost of living issues for low-income and working-class citizens, and how can a Community of Practice be created to sustain advocacy efforts to support new models for affordable housing through social policy change? The Affordable Housing Needs in South Etobicoke project is a partnership between the LAMP Community Health Centre and Humber College. With this research project we will uncover the cost of living issues through community based participatory research (CBPR) in South Etobicoke to develop a baseline of housing affordability; gather input from community members most marginalized to assess the impact of displacement and further marginalization; identify proactive measures to inform decision-making on issues across the 'cost of living' spectrum; contribute to the fight against homelessness; create inclusive and accessible communities; develop a strategy to co-develop and share possible solutions; and advocate for the building of affordable housing through social policy change.

Community Agency Partnerships: Best Practices for the Creation of Healthy Communities


Funder: NSERC


Program: CCSIF


Researcher: Ann Corbold, Faculty of Social & Community Services


Humber College in partnership with John Howard Society of Saskatchewan and Street Culture Project Inc. will be examining the characteristics of effective community agency partnership networks. Community Agency Partnerships: Best Practices for the Creation of Healthy Communities, will analyze an existing community agency partnership network to identify best practices in creating and maintaining these types of partnerships. Additionally, the study will evaluate existing programs aimed at youth 15 - 29 who are involved with the criminal justice system, or at risk of becoming involved, to determine whether they meet agency commitment to being trauma informed, culturally sensitive, free from systemic racism, and aligned with agency commitment to reconciliation. The overarching objective of this project is to help reduce youth crime, particularly QanQ violence, in Canada

COVID-19 Response: A scalable hand sanitizing sensing solution: IoT enabled hand sanitizer and soap dispensers


Funder: NSERC


Program: COVID-19


Researcher: Timothy Wong, Faculty of Applied Sciences & Technology


Mero is a technology innovator in the facility management automation industry, serving commercial properties with wireless IoT devices that monitor the metrics behind washroom use and waste. With the recent spread of the COVID-19 virus, hand sanitizer use is at an all-time high. For commercial properties to sustainably provide sanitization to the public, monitoring of their supply is a must. With Mero's sensing technology, this process is streamlined and readily available, but some refinement of the product remains. This grant will enable Mero to develop a scalable, repeatable retrofit solution to incorporate their sensors into existing hand sanitizer and soap dispensers regardless of the dispenser vendor, as well as create the packaging and training manuals necessary for commercial use. This technology will help keep essential workplaces, communities and cities safe during and post the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Response: Canadian Hospital Simulator For Management of COVID19 Cases and Contact Tracing


Funder: NSERC


Program: COVID-19


Researcher: Shahdad Shariatmadari, Faculty of Applied Sciences & Technology


The project will create a hospital resource simulator capable of predicting the resources a hospital in a particular city/region in a province requires to deal with anticipated new and existing COVID-19 cases. The simulator makes use of several parameters which are adjustable by hospital staff in making these predictions. Using the data from the simulator, hospital administrators can manage staffing needs (nurses, physicians) and equipment requirements (masks, ventilators, ICU beds, etc.) on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Developing a Best Practice Model for Mental Health Crisis Care: A Community-Engaged Approach


Funder: NSERC


Program: CCSIF


Researcher: Polly Ford-Jones, Faculty of Health Sciences & Wellness


When experiencing mental health crisis, many people rely on emergency services such as 9-1-1 dispatchers, paramedic services, police services and hospital emergency department services. Emergency response to mental health calls has recently gained significantly greater attention, recognizing that these interactions may have substantial, potentially life and death consequences for those already in distress. Many of these first response services lack sufficient resources and training and have few options to offer when providing care. Humber College and TAIBU Community Health Centre & Middlesex-London Paramedic Service will collaborate on the "Developing a best practice model for mental health crisis care: A community-engaged approach" project which brings together community-based service providers and emergency care providers to develop a best practice model for response to mental health crisis care. This project plans to highlight and develop practices that appropriately support all members of the community requiring emergency mental health support with particular attention paid to those of lower socioeconomic status, Black and Indigenous communities, People of Colour, and LGBT2SQ+ and immigrant communities. In addition to a best practice model, the project aims to co-develop workshops and training for practitioners working in these fields. Along with the partner organizations, this multi-disciplinary team of researchers bring extensive academic and frontline experience from across care sectors.

Digital Narratives: Indigenous Economic Development


Funder: NSERC


Program: CCSIF


Researcher: Audrey Wubbenhorst, Faculty of Health Sciences & Wellness


The global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have abruptly shifted the Ontario Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) sector towards the use of online dispute resolution and virtual platforms for courts, tribunals, and other dispute resolution hearings and processes. The ADR Institute of Ontario (ADRIO) is a revenue-generating non-profit industry association for practicing and aspiring practitioners of ADR. With a membership of over 900-strong across Ontario, ADRIO strives to enhance the quality and standards of practice in the provincial ADR sector by supporting accreditation and professional development of practitioners, including Mediators, Arbitrators, Adjudicators, Facilitators, and ADR students. ADRIO's current database management system (DMS) has limited functionality to provide client relationship management and related client-practitioner engagement identification. The technical challenge experienced by ADRIO is their limited resources and expertise to change the existing DMS into a more intuitive and accessible customer interface. The goal of this project is to transform how ADR practitioners interact with their clients, better understand the needs and challenges experienced by ADR practitioners; and identify new evolving practices. The Engage Grant will enable research, identification, and pilot testing of an online digital tool for data management, which will make ADRIO's processes more efficient, while addressing the emerging needs of Ontario's ADR sector.

Engaging and Education Young-Adult Cannabis 2.0 Consumers


Funder: NSERC


Program: CCSIF


Researcher: Daniel Bear, Faculty of Social & Community Services


Humber College will conduct a mixed methods, three phase project over the course of three years that will engage and educate young-adult cannabis users (18-30), the age group most likely to consume cannabis, and the age group most likely to consume cannabis on a daily or near daily basis. By targeting this age group we hope to impact long-term cannabis consumption practices, thereby having the best potential for improving public health and wellbeing outcomes for decades to come. In Phase One we will gather the data necessary to understand what new public education materials need to be developed by conducting an online survey and a series of focus groups across the country. In Phase Two, we will work with Humber College advertising students, or partner organizations, and cannabis consumers to develop new public education materials focused on effectively engaging consumers with harm reduction information about cannabis 2.0 products. In Phase Three, we will launch the new materials, and being an evaluation of their efficacy before updating the materials to respond to any shortcomings identified in our evaluation. Our partners on this project include the Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers (ACCRES), the National Institute of Cannabis Health and Education (NICHE), Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP), and Aurora Cannabis Inc.

Experiences of hope, self-compassion and authentic collaboration: Foundations for a consumer-informed compassion-based human services delivery framework in a Canadian context


Funder: NSERC


Program: CCSIF


Researcher: Sara Nickerson-White, Faculty of Social & Community Services


The experiences of hope, self-compassion and authentic collaboration: Foundations for a consumer informed compassion-based HS delivery framework in a Canadian context Human Services (HS) is a broad multidisciplinary field that is held together conceptually by the overarching goal of improving the quality of life of individuals, families, and communities in and through service delivery participation provided in public and non-profit organizations. Problematically, though, the HS field remains without an evidence base that can inform a guiding framework to root service provision principles across its multidisciplinary workforce and varied institutions. This study seeks to collect co-created lived experience narratives from human service Canadian consumers and providers about their lived experiences of hope, self-compassion and authentic collaboration in the course of HS service delivery. Four HS organizations with local, regional and national service coverage are partnering in this study for the purpose of deepening our understanding of how HS provision can foster the aspirations and preferences in ways that strengthen consumers' abilities to lead self-directed lives. Ultimately, this three-year research study will establish a consumer-informed foundation for a much-needed consumer-informed guiding framework that can aid Canadian HS organizations and service providers in their ability to be responsive to the aspirations and preferences of consumers in ways that strengthen their ability to lead self-directed lives. It will do so by bringing together community engaged scholars and applied researchers, along with a vibrant team of local and national community partners.

Measuring the Impact of 21st Century Experiential Learning on new Immigrants Workplace Performance


Funder: NSERC


Program: CCSIF


Researcher: Ginger Grant, Office of Research and Innovation


Canadian employers have consistently identified that internationally trained professionals (ITPs) are not hired for three key reasons: (1) lack of familiarity with Canadian workplace practices; (2) inability to effectively assess the relevance of work and education experience obtained abroad; and (3) lack of experience working in a typical Canadian team/matrix workplace environment. These barriers create significant underemployment for these highly skilled professionals who have immigrated to Canada, and this project is focused on overcoming these three identified barriers. ACCES Employment (ACCES) assists ITP's who are facing barriers to employment that prevent them from integrating into the Canadian job market into their field of work that reflects their past experience. The challenge faced by ACCES is how to measure the impact of both implemented and planned experiential learning opportunities on the employment readiness and actual employment of the ITP's who participate in their bridging programs. The key objective of this study is to develop an evidence-informed base of information which will help measure the impact of both implemented and planned experiential learning opportunities on the employment readiness and actual employment of the ITP's who participate in ACCES' bridging programs. This project is intended to research and measure the impact of these learning experiences to determine efficacy and effectiveness from both an ITP and employer perspective, and to use this data to inform decisions about which are and which are not effective.