Social Innovation Labs

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Social innovation labs (otherwise known as design labs, change labs, civic experiments) offer a space for collaborative action on 'wicked' problems. According to Darcy Riddell, Director of Strategic Learning for the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, "Social Innovation Labs thrive when they ensure the people most affected and those who have the power to make change are part of the process. Labs in general involve phases including: convening representatives of a given system, researching and reframing the systemic roots of problems, identifying promising ideas, prototyping interventions, and then iterating, implementing and scaling the social solutions that are generated."[1]

Problems and Purpose

Tara Mahoney, head of Creative Publics Lab at Simon Fraser University, describes their methodology as 'civic experimentation' the goal of which is to "bring together post-secondary students with local practitioners to work on experimental art and media projects aimed at engaging the public in local social and political issues."[2]


Participant Selection

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Analysis and Lessons Learned


Secondary Sources

[1] Maggie Knight, "An Emerging Community of Practice for Canadian Social Innovation Labs," LEDLab, [accessed September 30, 2017].

[2] Participedia contributors, "Creative Publics Lab," Participedia [accessed September 30, 2017].

External Links

Labis at l’Institut du Nouveau Monde:

Creative Publics Lab at Simon Fraser University:

The MaRS Solutions Lab:




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