Facilitating a retreat. 

This event brought together representatives from multiple postsecondary institutions and supporting organizations from higher education across Canada.  The activities and discussions addressed how to better leverage post-secondary “social infrastructure” assets (financial, research, educational, relational, physical and social)  in service of Canadian communities.  

Together we built a sense of community, surfaced drivers of this work and explored how we might work together more effectively to deepen and spread this growing field of practice.

Specifically we explored questions like:

  • What could the future of higher education in Canada look like?  

  • What would an ecosystem of support for this practice look like?  

  • Does the field have points of convergence and collaboration?

The retreat was hosted on Wasan Island in the heart of the Muskoka Lakes, Ontario, Canada. It is privately owned by the Breuninger Foundation, a German non-profit organization. The Island hosts gatherings of all kinds throughout the summer and fall months. 

We used Theory U as a basis of our time together and moved through three phases from Sensing (gathering information about the system we are operating within) to Presencing (slowing down, reflecting on our individual contribution to the work and letting new ideas emerge), and finally to Prototyping (finding others who want to innovate on the same issue, building prototype interventions together).  

Four major areas of work emerged from the gathering. The McConnell Foundation will convene these groups to determine what, if any, work participants might be interested in carrying forward, and who might be willing to advance these items.

The four areas of work are the following:

  1. Social Finance

  2. Indigenous Leadership

  3. Networking Networks (there is discussion that groups three and four might merge)

  4. Integrating Social Infrastructure in the Academy

“It was a joy working with you, Rachel.
We’re super pleased with the results of the gathering and direction we’re headed. Much of that success is due to your design and delivery.
And, on top of that, it was simply enjoyable working with you. Thanks!” 
Jake Wildman-Sisk, The McConnell Foundation