Universities were once viewed as ivory towers with little connection to communities around them. At SFU, this notion has been turned upside down, particularly in its interdisciplinary programs, which attract almost 500 students per year.
SFU Beedie School of Business lecturer Sarah Lubik, 33, told the Straight that she and her colleagues are creating “armies of ambitious innovators” ready to address society’s most vexing challenges.
“We’ve got all these new programs where we’re knocking down the silos between every single faculty that we have—putting students together around really exciting and meaningful ideas,” Lubik said. “We’re seeing the two worlds of commercialization and social impact colliding for the better. We’re very lucky to be at ground zero for it.”
Social innovation has been defined as “a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than current solutions”. According to Lubik, SFU is incorporating this concept into all of its entrepreneurship programs.
“There’s a very permeable membrane between the university and the community,” she said. “And within entrepreneurship, there’s a very permeable membrane between the different faculties here.”
Earlier this year, SFU received a $10-million donation from Charles Chang, an SFU grad and founder of Vega plant-based protein powders, to fund a new Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, which will expand on the interdisciplinary approach.
The federal government recently named Lubik as one of 10 “innovation leaders” who will spearhead discussions on helping build Canada’s innovation agenda.
Lubik, a former SFU undergrad with two graduate degrees from Cambridge, named faculty colleague Elicia Maine as a key mentor. “She was the first to open my eyes to this world of engaged research, teaching, and entrepreneurship,” Lubik said. “I’m not sure where I would have been without her.”
Lubik also praised SFU president Andrew Petter and SFU Beedie School of Business dean Ali Dastmalchian for promoting interdisciplinary education.
“You’re going to see an entire mind-shift change in Canadian society if we do our jobs properly,” Lubik said. “I think that’s very exciting.”