Global Symposium - Samuel Centre For Social Connectedness — Samuel Centre For Social Connectedness
Global Symposium

SCSC Global Symposium 2022

The Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness, in partnership with the Samuel Family Foundation, hosted the fourth Global Symposium on Overcoming Social Isolation and Deepening Social Connectedness in Toronto, Canada from October 22 to 25, 2022.

Under the theme “Imagination and Action: Building Systems of Belonging”, the Global Symposium brought together an extraordinarily diverse group of activists, thinkers, advocates, and teachers all united in a common mission: overcoming the interwoven crises of inequality, loneliness, polarization, and environmental degradation to build a world of belonging.

The theme for Day 1 of the Symposium was Imagining Belonging. This day’s discussions provided the foundation for the Symposium, exploring what it means to belong in the various systems we interact with. Day 2, Innovation and Connection, built upon the discussions of Day 1 and highlighted how partnerships play a critical role in amplifying impact. Day 3, From Imagination to Action, focused on impact at scale and building on the momentum created during the Symposium. Due to its unique intersectionality, the Global Symposium provided an unmatched forum for decision-makers, practitioners, researchers and thought-leaders to engage with ideas and individuals that can expand their work and generate greater impact. More highlights from the Symposium are included below in the section “SCSC Global Symposium 2022 Preliminary Outcomes”.

SCSC Global Symposium 2022 By the Numbers:

– 75 partner organizations from the belonging movement
– Participants from 10 countries around the world
– 41 speakers who provided insights and a keen focus on practical solutions
– Artists, dancers, poets and musicians who shared their art inspired by belonging
– Countless uniquely intersectional conversations on building systems of belonging
– 16,000 social media impressions, connecting people globally to the right to belong
– 200 invited global viewers to the first-ever Symposium livestream

Learn more about the SCSC Global Symposium 2022:

SCSC Global Symposium 2022 Preliminary Outcomes

The Global Symposium as a network hub and place of ideation and innovation:

As a core component of SCSC’s programs portfolio, each Global Symposium presents an important moment to bring together the Centre’s partners as well as organizations and individuals who are working to build belonging. It’s an opportunity for SCSC’s network to align vision, share good practices and strengthen the global movement for social connectedness.

These moments together are a unique opportunity for the Centre to build stronger connections with its core partners and explore opportunities for synergy amongst practitioners working at the different intersections of belonging and connectedness. It is also an important moment to highlight and gather learnings for SCSC’s programs, including the Social Connectedness Fellowship Program, Common Threads, and the Belonging Lab. SCSC’s Social Connectedness Fellows played a prominent role in this year’s Symposium, acting as SCSC Ambassadors, contributing to panel discussions and drawing insights from smaller group discussions. SCSC’s Belonging Lab was launched during a panel discussion, wherein ideas and feedback about the direction of research on belonging was solicited from participants.

At its core, the global movement for social connectedness relies on the strength of co-creation and amplification amongst partners in the movement. For this reason, our biennial convening of key stakeholders through the Symposium is essential to align our shared vision and explore how we can maximize our collective efforts to overcome social isolation.

A moment to imagine better systems of belonging

Over the three days of the Symposium, we shared ideas and imagined ways forward where there is greater recognition of and promotion of the Right to Belong for all.

The theme for Day 1 of the Symposium was Imagining Belonging. This day’s discussions provided the foundation for the Symposium, exploring what it means to belong in the various systems we interact with. Panel discussions and breakout sessions explored how systems, including education systems, health systems, penitentiary systems and political systems, act as barriers to social connection. Participants were encouraged to not only critically analyze the systems that play a key role in their lives and their work, but also to imagine what a system based on belonging could look like.

Day 2, Innovation and Connection, built upon the discussions of Day 1 and highlighted how partnerships play a critical role in amplifying impact. Key partners in the movement were invited to share their stories, while participants were guided to identify common themes and challenges. The day’s focus on lived experiences and connections highlighted how SCSC’s work, and the Global Symposium, has allowed partners to amplify their work and create lasting impact.

Day 3, From Imagination to Action, focused on impact at scale and building on the momentum created during the Symposium. On this day, SCSC launched the SCSC Belonging Lab, providing a forum to discuss how research on belonging can act as a catalyst for transformative programming. Participants gathered in smaller groups to discuss their major takeaways and next steps for action.

This year’s Global Symposium purposefully guided participants from a place of imagination and critical analysis to envisioning practical next steps to strengthen their work in support of the global movement for social connectedness. Due to its unique intersectionality, the Global Symposium provides an unmatched forum for decision-makers, practitioners, researchers and thought-leaders to engage with ideas and individuals that can expand their work and generate greater impact.

Reinforcing a global belonging movement and action for change

This year’s Symposium built on the conversations, momentum, and partnerships established in previous symposia, while also exploring new issue areas including the rights of incarcerated people, belonging in education systems, and the role of research in propelling the movement for belonging forward. Importantly, this year also marked the release of SCSC Founder Kim Samuel’s book On Belonging: Building Connection in an Age of Isolation. During the symposium, discussions surrounding On Belonging provided an opportunity to highlight partners, raise awareness and continue building a common language around social connectedness.

The primary outcomes of this year’s Symposium centre on awareness-raising, partnership development and the identification of future action.

Issue and awareness raising: Across discussions, the Symposium explored belonging and social isolation across divergent and intersectional areas including Indigenous rights, incarceration, poverty reduction, disability rights, research, education, older people’s rights, women’s rights and more. Speakers and partners had the opportunity to share knowledge about these issues and also identify important trends and key issues.

“We appreciate the shaping of the Breakout session. It made for interesting and reflective conversations, especially around reducing poverty and how the term and the response to poverty is seen as it relates to building belonging. It would be great to continue the conversation and cross learning!”– Marlene Ogawa, Country Director, Synergos, South Africa

“I learned so much from many casual conversations, as well as from the excellent panels, Kim’s excellent keynote address, and breakaway discussions.” – Shirley Pendlebury, Professor Emerita, University of Cape Town

Partnership building & networking: The Symposium created a space for authentic connection and dialogue between partners and practitioners coming from different countries, sectors, and issue areas, providing fertile ground to deepen existing partnerships and foster new collaborations.

“I appreciate the opportunity to talk over the panel and connect with other scholars and partners!” – Xuewei Wang Research Scientist, Data-Driven EnviroLab

“I’m absolutely grateful for such a wonderful opportunity and beautiful collaborations, of course, inspiring conversations with amazing and incredible people from across the world. What an experience. Thank you so much” – Sethu Ethan Xabanisa, Head of Corporate Affairs, Ikusasa Lethu; Founder Director, Smartbutton Technologies

“We had an authentic conversation – it has been a privilege to meet you all and learn together.” – Bethany Brown, Human Rights Advisor, International Disability Alliance’s & Olaoluwa Abagun, SCSC Fellow (2021) & Executive Director, ATHENA Network

Identifying areas for future collaboration: By providing a forum where participants could learn about new issue areas and explore the synergies between themselves, the Symposium also opened the door to identifying areas for future collaborations for change. For SCSC, in particular the Symposium provided key insights on prospective collaborations and lessons for future programming.

 

SCSC Global Symposium 2022 Program

SCSC Global Symposium 2022 Speakers and Artists

SCSC Global Symposium 2022 Photos

Check out these select photos from the SCSC Global Symposium 2022. More to come!

Imagination and Action: Building Systems of Belonging

SCSC Global Symposium 2022 Videos

Video recordings of each keynote address and panel discussion will be posted online when they are available. If you’d like to be notified when the recordings are posted, please send an email to Jennifer Foulds, Communications Manager, with your request.