Getting to Maybe: A Social Innovation Residency

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Leadership participants in discussion.

Leadership participants in discussion.

Social innovation skills are needed now more than ever to tackle the urgent challenges of our times.  Complex problems confront individuals and communities in many different sectors. Whether your concerns lie with culture, climate, industry, justice or policy, creating the change we need in the world depends on gaining knowledge and finding new approaches.   

In partnership with the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience and supported by The Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF), Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity has designed a 4-week residency for social innovators. The program supports those who have a sense of calling, have the ability to have a disproportionate impact on systems, and are ready to shift to the next dimension of their work. Project-driven, the residency is composed of four key elements; social innovation, the relationship of the arts to transformation, Indigenous traditions and ethics, and the role of the natural environment. Getting to Maybe supports growth and renewal in innovators and systems to develop an openness, creativity and comfort with uncertainty that will start addressing the fundamental challenges of our age.

"Governments, the private sector and the not for profit sector increasingly realize that they need to develop innovators - leaders and entrepreneurs with the skills to identify innovative opportunities in intractable and complex problem areas like the degradation of environmental services, mental health, poverty, the difficulties confronting aboriginal communities and disadvantaged youth among others,” said Dr. Frances Westley, J.W. McConnell Chair of Social Innovation and Director of the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience at the University of Waterloo. “These skills are not taught in our universities, and investment in these skills is urgently needed if we are to address 21st century problems. This program will provide that support and hopefully build on the emerging network of system leaders across Canada.”

the private sector and the not for profit sector increasingly realize that they
need to develop innovators - leaders and entrepreneurs with the skills to
identify innovative opportunities.

Dr. Frances Westley, J.W. McConnell Chair of Social Innovation

The social innovation residency will connect a diverse group of corporate, government, and community leaders as they look at ways to make communities better places to live. Beginning in the summer of 2015, participants will integrate learnings from systems research, the environment, Indigenous knowledge, and the arts on a foundation of social innovation theory. Led by academic experts in social innovation affiliated with the University of Waterloo and expert faculty and thought leaders from the Peter Lougheed Leadership Institute, the collaboratively designed program brings together the strengths and experience of the University of Waterloo and The Banff Centre across a range of important focus areas.

“Banff Centre champions leaders who focus on building stronger communities and influencing positive social change. We are sincerely grateful to have a partner like Suncor Energy Foundation,” said Dan Buchner, vice president of leadership, Banff Centre. “Their investment shows an unwavering commitment to engraining social innovation at the core of the Institute and will offer so much potential for our communities through this exciting new program.”

This investment from SEF will cover costs associated with tuition, room and board at Banff Centre. The program is designed to support organizations and people leading long-term social change initiatives that contribute to the well-being and resiliency of communities. This investment increases Suncor’s overall commitment to enhance leadership learning opportunities. The Foundation was announced earlier this year as the Institute’s first Founding Supporter and this support is in addition to that.

"To make tangible progress on the complex issues facing communities, we know we need to foster and participate in new thinking and leadership at a system-wide level,” said Eric Axford, executive vice president, Suncor and chair of the Suncor Energy Foundation board of directors. “This investment underscores our commitment to fostering collaboration across multiple disciplines, so together we can address complex social issues and develop strong and sustainable communities.”

Each year, approximately 24 participants will be recruited into the social innovation residency through a nomination  application process designed to ensure that each cohort is a diverse group of individuals from across Canada. The program will take place over 28 days.

Contact Us

For questions, please contact:



107 Tunnel Mountain Drive
Box 1020, Stn. 43
Banff, Alberta
T1L 1H5 Canada