Framework for Interdisciplinary Collaboration at Richardson College for the Environment

Title: Framework for Interdisciplinary Collaboration at Richardson College for the Environment
Project Scope:
Location/Year: Winnipeg, Manitoba. 2013
Collaborators: Terry Duguid


Working as a Research Assistant at the University of Winnipeg, I was engaged as a consultant to propose a framework for spurring greater levels of interdisciplinary collaboration and community-based research at the Richardson College for the Environment. The framework presented below is based on the Constellation Model for Collaborative Social Change pioneered by the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and the Environment, and Tonya Surman, Director of the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto:

Inspired by complexity theory, the constellation model emphasizes the role of small, self-organizing action groups working together on a particular task or issue. The model is distinguished by three features: Constellations, a Stewardship Group, and a third-party Secretariat.

Constellations take the form of clusters of activity in which partners voluntarily participate. They can be formal projects, opportunistic initiatives or working groups. Clusters become active when a group of partners decides to work on a particular issue. When there is low energy or declining opportunity, a constellation can become inactive without impacting negatively on the overall partnership. Constellations flow from opportunism, not from a rigid strategic plan. This makes it possible to balance the interests and needs of each group within the broader goal of highly productive collaboration. (Excerpt from the model)