A u.lab hub is a multi-sector, intergenerational learning community focused on social innovation. The bedrock of the hub is provided by u.lab. This is a twelve-week program that integrates leadership development, mindfulness practices, and design thinking.
Created by Otto Scharmer at MIT, u.lab combines a massive open online course (MOOC), delivered each fall by the founders from MIT, with an in-person, local community, called "hub". Every week throughout the course participants gather in the hub to put the ideas of the course into practice, to establish connections and mutually beneficial partnerships, to inspire and learn from each other.
I am part of the hosting team for the largest u.lab hub in the Montreal area, the u.lab Social Innovation Hub at Concordia University. While held at a public university, the Concordia hub is open to anyone, including students, staff, entrepreneurs, managers, individuals from marginalized communities and community leaders. The diversity of the hub represents one of its greatest strengths, as participants get to be part of a microcosm of the complex social contexts they are trying to innovate.
U.lab embodies the principles of self-directed and community based-learning, shifting from a consumption model, where knowledge is ingested for the purpose of reproduction, to one that is more holistic and instead focuses on empowering individuals to become capable and honorable scholars, citizens and human beings.
The number one leadership challenge in the world of business, government and civil society is the same: to enable stakeholder groups that need each other to change the system to move from ego-system awareness to eco-system awareness, that is, from me to we. This shift is achieved through a process involving five stages:
Co-initiating: building the social container, engage in deep listening, unconvering shared intentions;
Co-sensing: immersing oneself in the field, seeing reality from the edges of the system, sensing the current whole;
Co-presencing: connecting to the highest future potential of the whole, engaging in intentional stillness, allowing new perspectives to come;
Co-creating: bringing the new into reality, exploring the future by doing, through fast-cycle prototyping;
Co-shaping: embodying and institutionalizing the new – evolving the larger eco-system. Using what was learned in the small-scale prototypes and apply it to the evolution of the whole.
Peek into the experience of the u.lab Social Innovation Hub
at Concordia University
Turning ideas into concrete action
What I'm learning in u.lab
What is u.lab
Examples of u.lab practices
Gallery of prototypes