Stream 2: Cultural, Geopolitical, and Structural Barriers to Social Innovation

Co-Chairs: Athena Madan (University of Victoria), Robert Mittelman (Royal Roads University), and Kenny Panza (Ashoka Canada)

Social innovation is informed by high-income, Anglo-European, and market-oriented conceptualisations, indicators, measurements, and understandings of changemaking which may act as barriers for innovators embedded in different worldviews and knowledge systems. Most of the current social innovation practices continue to reflect asymmetries of power, privilege, and knowledge paradigms along cultural, social, and geopolitical lines. This theme will explore cultural and geopolitical frameworks and trends underpinning social innovation, implications for practise, and how the dominant changemaking paradigm might make space for knowledge systems with histories of colonisation, imperial dominance, oppression, protracted conflict, and environmental crisis.

We invite researchers, practitioners, and students to share research and experiences highlighting cultural, geopolitical, and structural barriers to social innovation. These could include frameworks, discourses, practises, and considerations surrounding DEI, Indigenous engagement, decolonial approaches, and anti-racist applications to social innovation. Panelists may also highlight research focused on identifying, dismantling, and/or mitigating social, economic, political, and environmental barriers to social innovation.

This theme will be explored via two interconnected ways of viewing and understanding these barriers.

1) We will look at how social, political, and environmental forces underpin social innovation practises, as illustrated by specific case instances / innovations (such as, for example, sovereignty, climate change, conflict, and discrimination), and discuss underrepresented conceptualisations of social innovation and Indigenous innovation.

2) We will engage in learning and discussion about what innovation means according to different perspectives and circumstances around the world and how social justice considerations might be implemented to inform innovation frameworks that value equity.


Submitting Your Proposal

We invite 250-word proposals (or other formats that clearly express the key ideas and components of the presentation) from educators, practitioners, Ashoka Fellows, Change Leaders, and others with interests and experience in the world of changemaking.

We encourage proposals for presentations, workshops, and other creative formats (suitable for on-line sessions) for brief sessions that will engage the delegates and encourage discussion and collaboration.

Note: Presenters must limit their sessions to 15 minutes.

Submission Deadline: Proposals are due May 31st, 2022.

Please submit your proposal to [email protected] and using the subject line:

Subject: CERF 2022 Proposal: Stream 2

Proposal Guidelines:

Proposals must be written in English and should be sent in a Microsoft Word of PDF format.