This summer 130 Faculty of Business students participated and successfully completed Humber’s Global Systems Gap Challenge. During this five-week innovative program, 125 Humber faculty and staff came together to support more than 300 students from around the world in gaining a better understanding of why complex problems seem to have a behaviour of their own no matter what solutions are created to solve them.
Students were placed into global, multi-disciplinary teams and asked to select a complex problem that aligned with one of the four challenge themes: Business, Education, Social Innovation, or Health & Wellness. Students were then introduced to tools to help them frame their problems and think more systemically. Students collaborated across different academic disciplines, cultures, and time zones to research root causes as well as past and current solutions to understand why the complex problem continues to persist over time.
Unlike most challenges, this one asked students to avoid creating a solution. The purpose of the challenge was for students to spend their time within the problem space and uncover gaps within the system. After identifying the system’s stakeholders and key elements, students had the opportunity to apply their new skills and present these gaps as possible areas for intervention in a compelling narrative to an expert panel.
Students from the Faculty of Business did exceptionally well in the challenge with 13 of them being a part of all eight winning teams! While many used this challenge to satisfy hours for their work-integrated learning requirement, the true value was in the new skills they developed. These students worked hard and successfully demonstrated a systems-thinking mindset.
When asked to identify the biggest takeaway from participating in the challenge, Ayushi from the Marketing Management program highlighted the collaborative efforts of her global team. “We discussed our strengths and weaknesses and different cultures and backgrounds.This gave us a lot of insight into our project.”
Leanne, a Bachelor of Commerce, Healthcare Management student greatly valued this opportunity as she communicated that the “challenge has cultivated confidence in my skills and capabilities as a leader, a critical thinker, a problem-solver, and as a creative person.”
Business Management student, Bamidele, was a member of one of the winning teams within the Social Innovation theme whose complex problem investigated why affordable housing continues to be a challenge in the Greater Toronto Area despite significant investments by government and the private sector in the past decade. In asking for the value of developing a systems-thinking mindset, Bamidele stated it “allows for a holistic and more sustainable approach to problem-solving.”
Not only was the Global Systems Gap Challenge an opportunity to gain valuable skills, but it was also a chance for Humber faculty and staff from across the college to work together on a project to support student learning during a global pandemic. A true example of a community coming together to collaborate!