Social Innovation: Beyond a Buzzword

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29 May, 2019 to 30 May, 2019

Research Centre on Social Innovation and TransformationSocial Innovation Workshop Mauril-Bélanger (The Atelier), Saint Paul University

The newly founded Research Centre on Social Innovation and Transformation (Centre de recherche sur les innovations et les transformations sociales or CRITS) is issuing a call for participation to its first annual conference. Along with the Élisabeth-Bruyère School of Social Innovation and the Mauril-Bélanger Social Innovation Workshop (The Atelier), CRITS forms a think tank, training hub, and operational base that considers social innovation through a social justice lens. It also strives to ensure various collective action projects converge into the community spaces it creates.

You are invited to join us for a two-day conference . The format will allow theorists and practitioners to come together and address a set of questions that we believe are crucial to ensuring that social innovation is not, or ceases to be, the exclusive domain  of neoliberal trajectories.

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For its inaugural conference, CRITS would like to create a meeting space to collectively think through and launch a mobilization and lasting commitment to understanding social innovation through a social justice lens. The event hopes to advance the CRITS’ own research agenda while fostering the initiation of collaborative projects marked by the CRITS perspective. We approach the issue following four lines of inquiry:

  1. emancipatory thought;
  2. the action of social movements in the face of systemic power structures;
  3. democratic governance; and
  4. engaged practices in teaching and research.


Given that the concept of social innovation is widely mobilized by the state, the business world, and grassroots communities initiatives that invest it with various (and sometimes incompatible) definitions, we assert that the flow between innovation and transformation can be activated through an emancipatory approach that offers a critique of current systems in order to develop alternatives. We therefore have a much broader understanding of social innovation actors, or “social enterprises,” than what can usually be found in social innovation literature. In fact, we work to  cover citizen initiatives, activist groups as well as public institutions and/or businesses that engage in innovative and emancipatory practices.

Given the current state of publications and social practices related to the multifaceted notion of social innovation, we believe we urgently need to take the issue into consideration. The discussion will, on the one hand, ensure we accurately assess the risks of neoliberal drift associated with the spread of social innovation through universities and, on the other hand, to measure its potential as a radically emancipatory educational project. For this purpose, we wish  to call into question the emerging practices taking root in hubs, coworking spaces, incubators, accelerators, etc. currently appearing and expanding throughout the world...

Research Centre on Social Innovation and Transformation
Ottawa  Ontario
Research & Development
Social Economy & Social Enterprise