A gathering of practitioners as fellow travellers to compare notes and develop mitigations to critical gaps in the Social R&D ecosystem.
For the social sector to have lasting impact in a fast-changing world it must have capacity, resources and permission to conduct research and development, or R&D. This was the hypothesis explored at a gathering in 2015, which ultimately lead to the Social R&D Declaration of Action.
Now, in 2017, looking across Canada and across the globe, it’s clear that R&D to help social mission organizations generate rapid and continuous advancements in services and solutions to enhance lives is an idea whose time has come.
Canada has an emerging social R&D practice: organizations like E180 in Montreal are using data science to strengthen peer-to-peer learning, Kudoz are applying ethnography in the disability sector in Vancouver, The Winnipeg Boldness Project are using social lab methods to create a new framework for childhood development in Winnipeg, and many more. These organizations are finding ways to deliver services while investing in research, design, development and delivery of new practices and services.
A central focus of the Social R&D Fellowship is to support the individuals leading this work.
The Social R&D practitioner community have said that to strengthen their craft, they need to increase their awareness of compelling experiments and insights from across issue domains; they need time to connect with other practitioners; and they need ongoing exposure to new methods, tools and techniques.
To help address this need, a Social R&D Practice Gathering has been hosted every summer since July 2016.
The three-day program, the only one of its kind in Canada, was designed to cross-pollinate research and design methods, showcase experiments with new technologies, share insights and know-how, build and strengthen relationships, and surface the ecosystem conditions required for social R&D practitioners to do their best work.
The report, Field Notes: Insights from Practitioners on Growing Social R&D, with foreword by Dr. Alex Ryan, captures highlights and actionable recommendations from the 2017 Practice Gathering. The report strove to document proceedings for practitioners, recommendations for the Government of Canada Social Innovation / Social Finance Strategy, and insights for funders and others who play enabling and supporting roles in growing this emerging practice.