Social Innovation Exchange

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Community and college, serving a common goal.

For our faculty and researchers, the community is an extension of the classroom.

Social innovation projects at George Brown enable our researchers to increase their capacity to work with communities, with the goal of developing partnerships that foster social innovation in areas such as education, integration of vulnerable populations, health and community development.

Learn more about the Social Innovation Exchange

Our mission

What is Social Innovation?

“The development of new ideas or the use of existing ideas to find solutions to social challenges. Social innovation entails an initiative, product, process or program that creates positive social outcomes for societies.” (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)

Project Spotlights

Community Guide to Cancer Nutrition

Faculty: Amy Symington

Summary: This project is a collaboration between George Brown College and the Gilda’s Club of Greater Toronto to research, test and produce a comprehensive, informative and accessible handbook on cancer nutrition. The nutrition guide will be equipped with health-promoting recipes that could be used by Gilda’s Clubs and cancer care affiliates nationwide as a model for running similar health-promoting, and socially and emotionally supportive supper clubs. This research will be conducted in George Brown College’s Chef School. The finished product will be an evidence-based guide that contains research on health-promoting foods for persons with cancer, 80 large quantity recipes complete with photos and nutrition facts tables, a list of necessary pantry items and kitchen equipment, important culinary skills, and tips on how to run a successful supper club program.

Partner Organization: Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto

Job Talks: Innovative Study and Website Recruitment in the Skilled Trades

Faculty: Jonathan Callegher

Summary: This project is a collaboration between George Brown College, the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, Skills Ontario and Q. I. Value Systems to pursue innovative research to respond to identified gaps in information and communication about the trades. This research will be conducted in George Brown College’s Centre for Business. Through a national survey, recorded interviews and an interactive website called “Job Talks” the project will mobilize a new understanding of tradespeople by allowing the public to interact with the research findings, view videos of passionate tradespeople, and access career information.

Partner Organizations: The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, Skills Ontario and Q.I. Value Systems


Visit the Social Innovation Exchange Project Archive

Our Team

Dr. Eva Aboagye, Program Manager, Social Innovation
Dr. Eva Aboagye

Program Manager, Social Innovation

Within the Office of Research and Innovation, Eva provides guidance on and management of research methods and budgets for researchers applying to or holding external research or social innovation grants. She has over twenty years of management experience in the postsecondary sector, seventeen of which focused on strategic planning, research and teaching in the Ontario College system. Previously, she held several positions at Centennial College including Senior Researcher at the Institute for Global Citizenship and Equity, Director of Policies Pathways and Grants, and Manager of the Strategic Institutional Planning. Eva has a Ph.D. and an MEd in Higher Education from the University of Toronto and a BA from the University of Ghana.

Areas of Expertise

  • Research
  • Program Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Policy development
  • Equity and diversity

Visit Dr. Aboagye's Linkedin

Jaswant Bajwa, PhD.
Jaswant Bajwa, Ph.D.

Professor, Centre for Preparatory and Liberal Studies (CPLS)

Jaswant Bajwa has worked as an anti-violence advocate, academician and community researcher, consultant and clinician for over 25 years. She uses an intersectional lens in her practice and is passionate about the use of education as a tool for social change and empowerment. Since the early 1990s, both her research and practice have focused on the impact of violence on learning and the educational changes (both at micro and systemic levels) that need to be made in order to foster a safe and inclusive learning environment for students with histories of violence. In this role, she provides leadership to staff and students and is responsible for the development of the research capacity within the division. She has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a focus on psychological burnout in caring professionals.

Amy Symington, MSc
Amy Symington, MSc

Professor/Chef, Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts

Amy Symington, MSc. is a nutrition professor, research associate and plant-based chef at George Brown College in Toronto, Canada. She runs the culinary nutrition programming at Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto, a not-for-profit organization for those touched by cancer and does recipe development and food writing for various publications in Toronto. Amy believes in the evidence-based health and environmental benefits of plant-based diets and is the recent author of The Long Table Cookbook: Plant-based recipes for optimal health. Her research tends to be focused on functional foods and disease prevention and management.

See Amy's projects - still need to link

Areas of Expertise

  • Functional foods
  • Disease prevention and management
  • Culinary nutrition
  • Plant-based cuisine
Dr. Robin Yap, Faculty Lead Humology Lab
Dr. Robin Yap

Professor, Centre for Business

Robin has deep expertise in performance and talent management, and social data, AI/Robot Ethics and applied technology in business and entrepreneurial practices. He has an interdisciplinary academic background coupled with a global corporate experience spanning three decades. His academic background, over 100k followers on his combined social media channels, social data research, and publications gained him a featured guest spot in CNN-Asia and CBC-Metro Morning.


B.A. in Philosophy; B.A. in Political Science; MSc in Computer Technology; L.LB Bachelor of Laws; Doctorate in Global Leadership (Technology, Social Data, Learning, Performance Management); Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Data Analytics

Areas of Expertise

  • Performance management
  • Ethnographic Research
  • AI/Robot Ethics
  • Social Data Science
  • Advanced Convergences of Technologies
Dr. Zeenat Janmohamed
Dr. Zeenat Janmohamed

Chair, Community Services & Deaf, Deafblind Studies

Dr. Zeenat Janmohamed is the Academic Chair in the School of Social and Community Services and School of Deaf and Deafblind Studies at George Brown College. She has held faculty positions in the School of Early Childhood, the Atkinson Centre at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University and the Eric Jackman Institute of Child Studies at the University of Toronto. Zeenat maintains an active research portfolio in early childhood development in partnership with the University of Toronto. She is also exploring the training needs of child and youth care practitioners in supporting children and youth who have experienced human trafficking. She is engaged in ongoing reviews of professional training and includes a commitment to the implementation of diversity, equity and difference. Zeenat’s collaboration in higher education, program evaluation and strategic planning extends across Canada and in many countries across the globe. Zeenat completed her Ph.D. in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at OISE, University of Toronto.

See Zeenat's projects - need to add link

Areas of Expertise

  • Early childhood development
  • Curriculum development
  • Strategic planning
  • Academic leadership
Jon Callegher
Jon Callegher, Ph.D.

Professor, Centre for Business

Dr. Jon Callegher is a professor and researcher in the School of Marketing. He has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Waterloo. As a project director, he has led research collaborations for a combined $750,000 in federal and provincial research grants, including two 3-year SSHRC-CCSIF partnership awards. Jon is the author of Pearson Canada’s new standard university and college Marketing Research textbook. He has appeared on radio, TV, and at conferences internationally, speaking about work, generational differences, and marketing.

See Jon's projects - will need to link


  • Ontario Government Report on Retaining Employees in the Skilled Trades (R.E.S.T.). With the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON).


  • Job Talks
  • Skilled Trades: Innovative Study and Website for Recruitment in the Skilled Trades. With the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, Skills Canada Ontario, CWB Welding Foundation, Q.i. Value Systems.

Academic History

Ph.D., Sociology, University of Waterloo, 2013 M.A, Sociology, University of Windsor, 2006 B.A. Hons, Sociology, University of Windsor 2004

Areas of Expertise

  • Marketing Research
  • Generational Research
  • Employment Research
  • Skilled Trades
Przemyslaw Pawluk
Przemyslaw Pawluk

Professor, Centre for Arts, Design and Information Technology

Przemyslaw Pawluk is a professor in the School of Technology at George Brown College teaching mobile, web and game development. Since 2011 he is also CTO and VP of Mobi-Learning Inc. providing consulting services. Przemyslaw enjoys mixing theory and practice. He has industry experience in building telecommunication, GIS, and banking systems. He leading several applied research projects at GBC and presented his work at various conferences. His research interests are applications of IT in education and cloud computing. Przemyslaw graduated from Wroclaw University of Technology and Blekinge Institute of Technology and holds a Master of Science degree in Software Engineering.

See Przemyslaw's projects - will need to link


M.Sc in Software Engineering, a double diploma from Wroclaw University of Technology (Poland) and Blekinge University of Technology (Sweden)

Areas of Expertise

  • Software engineering
  • Mobile app development
  • Database design
  • Cloud computing
  • Information systems for education
Melissa Teles
Melissa Teles

Professor, Social and Community Services

Melissa Teles has worked in the child and youth sector for nearly 20 years as a practitioner, supervisor and, most recently, as a GBC Professor of CYC. She holds a Master of Arts and is currently completing her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, with a focus on higher learning and sexual diversity studies. Melissa is currently working on a project that explores the commercial sexual exploitation of young people, and a project in Regent Park which aims to build the capacity of young people to conduct research in their communities. She has supervised over two dozen emerging practitioners and supported over 400 students in field education in the Child and Youth Care Program. She is actively involved in the CYC Educational Accreditation Board of Canada, which is focused on the education, training and regulation of child and youth care practitioners. Melissa has extensive experience building and navigating community partnerships, having worked with agencies in Canada and the United States, such as child protection agencies, hospitals, and school boards. Her direct and relational approach has proven successful in navigating partnership challenges and ensuring the long-term sustainability of research projects.

Jennifer Mitsche
Jennifer Mitsche

Professor, Centre for Preparatory and Liberal Studies

Jennifer Mitsche has over 20 years of experience as an educator and, more recently, as a researcher. Her research focuses on the connection between food security, community, and student well-being. Jennifer is currently a professor of English and Communications at George Brown College. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and English Literature, and an M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies. She is the founder of the Communal Lunch Project, a program that is grounded in both performance theory and food security theory, and which was officially launched in 2019 as part of the GBC Peerconnect student support program. Her current research project is an innovative initiative that highlights the social function of food to address the food insecurity and social isolation faced by so many post-secondary students.

Gary Hoyer
Gary Hoyer

Professor, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management

Gary is currently a Professor of Hospitality Management for the Bachelor of Business Administration (Hospitality) Degree program at George Brown College in Toronto. Besides a busy academic schedule, he has been active recently researching the benefits of Farm to School approaches and advocating for universal school meals for students. Gary and a host of GBC students and graduates have also been delivering cooking, food security, and food system workshops to middle and high school students in the GTA.

He has been a supporter of local farmers and organic agriculture for nearly three decades and a leading advocate for sustainable local agriculture and environmental responsibility.

Gary has enjoyed a long and successful career as a Restaurateur, Chef, and General Manager in the foodservice industry. Now, as a Professor, he imparts the responsibilities for protecting the health and well-being of society and stewarding the environment that leadership entails to a new generation of industry professionals.

See Gary's projects - will need to link

Milan Shahani
Milan Shahani

Professor, School of Fashion Studies

Milan Shahani holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology from Bombay University. She also holds a Master in Fine Arts Degree specializing in Costume Design for Theatre, from the University of North Carolina’s School of The Arts. Milan has worked as a Costume Designer for various theatre and film productions in Toronto, New York and India. She has taught designers, mentored students through industry commissioned projects and provided apprenticeships for graduates. Her applied research interests lie in designing garments for healthcare and particularly the differently able community. She is actively involved in bettering the lives of stroke survivors. Milan joined the faculty of George Brown College in 1999 and has been teaching here ever since.

See Milan's projects - will need to link

Dr. Monica McGlynn-Stewart
Dr. Monica McGlynn-Stewart

Professor, School of Early Childhood

Monica McGlynn-Stewart (Ph.D.) is a professor in the School of Early Childhood at George Brown College, Toronto, Ontario. She teaches courses in curriculum, education policy, and research methods. She is a former elementary teacher, principal, and consultant. She was the Principal Investigator on the federally funded research project, Toys or Tools? Using Tablet Applications for Open-Ended Literacy Learning (2015-2019), and is currently the Principal Investigator on the Helderleigh Foundation-funded research project, A Sensory Approach to Food Literacy (2019-2020), and the federally funded research project, Designing and implementing environmental inquiry strategies in urban early years programs in Canada (2020-2023).

See Monica's projects - will need to link


BA, DCS, M.Ed, Ph.D. (UofT); Professional qualifications: RECE, OTC

Areas of Expertise

  • Early years curriculum
  • Literacy learning and teaching
  • Digital learning
  • Teacher professional development
Griffen Epstein
Griffin Epstein

Professor, School of Social and Community Services

Griffin Epstein is a professor in the School of Social and Community Services who has been engaged in community organizing and front-line social service provision since 2005. Griffin’s activist work began as a founding member of both the Icarus Project’s peer support model at New York City’s Fountain House and Toronto’s Disability Action Movement Now (DAMN). Prior to joining the Social Service Worker team, Griffin developed and delivered curriculum for the Toronto Hostels Training Centre, and provided strategic planning assistance and training programs at various Toronto agencies. Griffin’s doctoral work at the University of Toronto utilized community-based research to explore the relationship between white supremacy, colonial violence and urban change in the context of social service work. Griffin also holds an MA in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning and a BA in Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Project Spotlight

  • Educating for Peer Support Work (EPSW)

Areas of Expertise

  • Peer support work in social and community services
  • Critical perspectives on mental health
  • Harm reduction
Taras Gula
Taras Gula

Professor, Health Sciences

Taras has been a professor at George Brown College since 2002 after a 12-year career teaching mathematics in the Toronto District School Board. He teaches courses in mathematics, statistics, and research methods to students in the Health Science Division. Taras’ research has been focused on improving mathematics and statistics education for non-mathematicians, but he has also supported research in Inter-professional Education and other health sciences education research formally and informally. As part of larger research projects, Taras has led a team that evaluated the adaptation of JUMP math to the college setting (HRSDC sponsored) and created online learning tools ( and

See Taras' projects - will need to link

Ana Rita Morais

Chair, School of Design

Ana Rita Morais has devoted much of her academic and professional career to investigating mobile media through investigations of archival material, cartography, digital culture and space/place. She is the Chair for the School of Design at George Brown College, and has taught a range of design, media and communication courses across various colleges and universities in Toronto, published and presented her research at several international conferences (including at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Oxford), and has conducted workshops and panelled discussions on various topics. Ana Rita is currently completing a research-creation Doctoral project at York-Ryerson Universities, developing an augmented reality app entitled me-dérive: toronto. The software enables a new mode of vision and an alternative world of experience, that acts as a nomadic, visual archive of Toronto's urban space. Ana Rita also sits on the Board at The ArQuives (formerly the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives).


BA, MA, Ph.D. (ABD)

Areas of Expertise

  • Mobile and Locative Media
  • Augmented Reality
  • Theories of Technology
  • Human-Computer Interaction

Visit Ana Rita Morais' Linkedin

Rusa Jeremic
Dr. Rusa Jeremic, Ph.D. 

Rusa Jeremic teaches in the Community Worker Program at George Brown College, Toronto, ON. She has a PhD in Social Justice Education, during which she was a recipient of a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Grant for her dissertation which focuses on online digital activism and social movement building as a form of critical digital pedagogy. Prior to joining GBC, Rusa worked as a campaigner, popular educator and researcher in international human rights and with economic justice global solidarity movements. 

In 2017, Rusa received a GBC Insight Grant as Principal Investigator for the research report Critical Digital Fluency in the Community Work Sector, co-authored with student Kelly Bouchard. Most recently in Fall 2022, as Principal Investigator and Project Director, Rusa received a 3-year CCSIF/SSHRC grant ($360,000.00) for a community-based project that brings together a team of community leaders and activists from Toronto's priority neighbourhoods with Agency Partners and GBC students to investigate how grassroots activists and community leaders experienced the shift to the digital during the pandemic. 

Rusa has published widely on critical digital literacy, activism and social movement building, social justice pedagogy and equity-based practice in higher education in academic journals, book chapters, and popular media.


Principal Investigator on GBC supported research report, Critical Digital Fluency in the Community Work Sector: Identifying Gaps and Addressing Needs, co-authored with student Kelly Bouchard (2017-2018). CCSIF/SSCHRC 3 year research project Learning from the Pandemic: Bridging the Digital Fluency Gap for Community Leaders (2022-2025).

Areas of Expertise:
Community Empowerment, Social Justice Approaches to Community Work, Critical Digital Pedagogy, Human Rights, Digital Activism, Social Movement Building, Equity-based pedagogies, systemic injustice and social justice teaching.

Academic Credentials:
PhD, Social Justice Education, OISE/UofT