Success through collaboration

CCEL will be seeking expertise from all communities. | Photo courtesy of The UBC Centre for Community Engaged Learning

Bringing people together to garner success is exactly what the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Centre for Community Engagement Learning (CCEL) is hoping to accomplish, with a new project entitled Collaboratory.

The project will consist of a series of events meant to bring together members of the community, diverse organizations and UBC students and professors to discuss many of the pressing social concerns Vancouver is facing.

Growing with a vision

The CCEL has partnerships with many different organizations as well as examined strategies and resources in place on a local, provincial and national level to determine a few of the most prominent social issues faced in Vancouver. The new project will consist of monthly workshops centred around issues such as poverty, housing, social isolation and environmental sustainability.

“We want to create a platform where people from all different backgrounds can come together on an equal field to identify, discuss, learn and work together to apply existing solutions or co-create new solutions to pressing social issues,” explains CCEL Associate Director, Yusuf Alam.

In 2006, when the CCEL was first established, it had the vision of creating an informed and educated population that can activate meaningful change.

“We exist as a unit on campus that realizes that true education isn’t always found at the front of the classroom. There is also expertise within the community,” Alam exclaims.

Each year the centre works with many community organizations, approximately 80 professors and over 7000 students to create partnerships, enhance research opportunities and bring people together to garner change.

Creating a “Collaborative Laboratory”

They chose the name Collaboratory as a play on words, combining ‘collaboration,’ the coming together of people to create something, and ‘laboratory,’ a place used for experimenting and testing ideas.

The vision for Collaboratory is to bring people from all fields, backgrounds, experiences and educations together in one place to connect and create new ideas.

“We really want to get people in the room and create the conditions that can lead to good conversations between people that might not have had the chance to know each other otherwise. Then we try to pepper it with opportunities to move beyond the room,” Alam explains.

Some of these opportunities may involve facilitating connections with other groups that may be interested in a project, providing funding for new initiates or pointing out alternative routes to obtain funding that may be available. The CCEL wants to help provide the connections for great change to happen.

UBC is home to some of the world’s top researchers and the university is locally integrated into the city of Vancouver but with far-reaching global connections. The CCEL recognizes great opportunity for connecting the community of Vancouver, UBC and global partnerships and the potential that could have in taking innovative ideas and making them a reality.

“Quite often it’s like being a chef. It’s all about understanding the right ingredients and putting them in the pot and letting it taste great,” says Alam. “Our communities are so rich in talent and expertise. I think in terms of the message I want to get across with this program is that we recognize the assets and knowledge that already exists is so plentiful and we stand to gain so much in solutions on the path forward to creating a society that everyone can benefit from. That’s what the Collaboratory is all about.”

The project is expected to run monthly starting in September 2019. Those interested in participating or learning more about the Collaboratory Series can visit the CCEL webpage:

AMSSA, although contacted, did not reply by the deadline.