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How to Design a Social Lab

February 18, 2016

Semester in Dialogue Alumni Emily Townsend is currently working with a start up organization called .commUNITY that aims to bring together projects working on similar or overlapping issues, they create 'communities of projects'. .commUNITY is looking for individuals that may be interested in taking a 3-day course this summer called How To Design a Social Lab. In our social labs, we will explore how to develop collaborative solutions between different stakeholder groups to address complex challenges that we may be facing as an individual, an organization, or a society.

How To Design a Social Lab

We are excited to invite you to the 3-day course How To Design a Social Lab, delivered by Zaid Hassan and the Social Labs team. The course is coming to Vancouver this July 11-13, 2016. You can prepare for the course in advance by checking out Zaid’s book The Social Labs Revolution, or see the attached PDF for more details on the course.

What is a Social Lab?

“Social labs bring together a diverse group of stakeholders not to create yet more five-year plans but to develop a portfolio of prototype solutions, test those solutions in the real world, use the data to further refine them, and test them again. Their orientation is systemic—they are designed to go beyond dealing with symptoms and parts to get at the root cause of why things are not working.”

—Zaid Hassan

Why Design Social Labs?

As a species, we are faced with enormously difficult challenges that need to be approached differently. Hassan says: “Issues like poverty, ethnic conflict, and climate change are incredibly dynamic and complex, involving an ever-shifting array of factors, actors, and circumstances. They demand a more fluid and adaptive approach. Social labs are a more effective approach.”

Why is .commUNITY Involved?

.commUNITY builds ekosystems, guiding communities of projects to align in addressing complex systemic issues of the type that Zaid Hassan tackles with Social Labs. Ekosystems are a new form of human organization that incorporates the best of communities and movements, and we will bring techniques from the Social Labs model into our work developing ekosystems.

Whether you work in a large organization, a small organization, or are operating independently, if you feel the need for deeper engagement with others who address similar complex problems, this course might be right for you.

Contact us to hear about organizational discounts.

Save Your Spot Here

Suresh, Emily M., Emily T., Leo and Zaid

The Vancouver Social Labs Team


If you have questions, please contact us directly at,, or

You can register for the course here

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Semester in Dialogue 2016 brochure