The PDC partners with NBSPRN to help Student Ambassadors learn about Co-creating Solutions in Complex Systems

January 19, 2018 | by: Heather Boyd-Kinnie

The New Brunswick Social Policy Research Network has partnered with the Pond-Deshpande Centre to introduce a social policy perspective to recent cohorts of the Student Ambassador Program.   On January 13th, Student Ambassador Program workshop was designed to provide perspectives and tools broadly applicable to complex systems and not just limited to policy development.

Most of us would like to make the world a better place and most of us think we are good problem solvers.  However, unless we appreciate the complexity of the systems that we are working in, rushing to a solution without spending enough time considering the challenge or problem can often further complicate the situation.

Complex challenges are difficult to address because they morph and change even as we are trying to address them.  It is not possible to know everything about a system before we need to act.  We sometimes only begin to fully understand the problems once we start to act.

Having innovative mindsets, the Student Ambassadors were very engaged in this learning which introduced them to community leaders who were invited to share with the students their experiences working in complex social systems.  Erin Jackson is the Coordinator for the Collaborative on Healthy Aging and Care.  She spoke about the work that they are doing to change the dialog on seniors in New Brunswick communities.  Scott MacAffee, a coordinator with the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation, spoke about their work in the implementation of the Province’s poverty reduction plan.

The students were also provided with an overview of the work of NouLAB, New Brunswick’s social innovation lab which reinforces the importance of gathering multi-stakeholder teams so that people with diverse perspective bring their knowledge and history to the task of understanding the problem.  The process also draws on techniques from Systems Thinking and Design Thinking to analyze the system and develop potential solutions to prototype.

The dialogue around the topics of aging and poverty provoked an engaged conversation where the students were testing what it means to work in complex systems.

In reflecting on his experience, after this workshop, our Student Ambassador, Thandiwe McCarthy shared his thoughts:

“That was a great SAP programming day. I was super shocked when you said it was the last one. I honestly, thought this party would never end! You have all completely changed the way I view and think about everything and this experience was worth its weight in gold. I’m so happy you’re all open to continued conversation.”, SAP 2017-18 Cohort

Article by Bill MacKenzie, Director of Strategic Partnerships, NBSPRN


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