University professors critical to supporting new era of innovation in Canada

Calgary, AB – This week, leading Canadian academics convened at Congress 2016 to discuss professors’ role in preparing the next generation of innovators. As part of the conference, a panel discussion highlighted the opportunities and challenges faced by Canada’s professoriate as they support students to adapt to the shifting demands of a globalized economy. The panel was convened and moderated by Mitacs, a national, not-for-profit research and training organization dedicated to advancing social and industrial innovation in Canada.

The professor as social innovator – evolving roles on campus and in communities explored professors’ evolving and expanding roles in light of shifting educational technologies, increased training responsibilities, and other pressures. They also discussed how these shifts are providing opportunities for social innovation, enabling professors and the researchers they train, to make a meaningful impact on the world.

The panel featured the following speakers:

  • Patti Derbyshire; Chair, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and Social Innovation, Mount Royal University; and CEO and Founder, Torch Motorcyles
  • Eugene Kowch, Associate Professor of Education Technology and Education Leadership, University of Calgary
  • Susan Crichton; Associate Professor and Director, Faculty of Education; and Director, Innovative Learning Institute, University of British Columbia – Okanagan
  • Paul Shumlich, Founder and Strategy Director, Deepwater Farms

The panel was part of the 85th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, hosted this year by the University of Calgary. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the annual conference brings together academics, researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners to share findings, refine ideas, and build partnerships.


Alejandro Adem, CEO and Scientific Director, Mitacs

“Mitacs programs help prepare social sciences and humanities students for successful careers by creating experiential learning opportunities with businesses and not-for-profit organizations. From there, researchers apply their skills to local, national, and global challenges and develop innovative, thoughtful solutions.”

Susan Crichton, Associate Professor and Director, Faculty of Education; Director, Innovative Learning Institute, University of British Columbia – Okanagan

“Academics are striving to balance scholarship with the public’s expectations of universities. Collaboration among universities and the community can help to bridge these expectations by applying academic knowledge, ethics, and rigour, to global issues.”

Quick facts:

  • Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization that has designed and delivered research and training programs in Canada for 16 years.
  • Working with 60 universities, thousands of companies, and both federal and provincial governments, Mitacs builds partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada.
  • Mitacs’ Accelerate program connects graduate students with industry partners for research internships supervised by faculty.
  • Open to all disciplines and all industry sectors, projects can span a wide range of areas, including manufacturing, business processes, IT, social sciences, design, and more.


Photo from left to right: Susan Crichton, Eugene Kowch, Paul Shumlich, and Patti Derbyshire at the Professor as social innovator panel.