Social Connectedness Fellowship Program

The Social Connectedness Fellowship Program provides recent undergraduates with the opportunity to carry out research, writing, analysis, and outreach in thematic areas related to social isolation and connectedness in the context of community building and international development. The program is intended to provide Fellows with key professional skills and experience in policy, program, and partnership development to carry forward in their future studies and careers.

Each Fellow co-curates their Fellowship experience together with Professor Kim Samuel and team members from The Samuel Family Foundation and TakingITGlobal. Fellows begin by developing a work plan in their chosen area of focus with the goal of identifying pathways to overcoming social isolation and building social connectedness. They then proceed to produce a variety of written works, from analytical reports to blog articles (see below).

2017 Fellows following the Fellowship orientation event May 29

A key goal of the Fellowship Program is to build a supportive community amongst Fellows themselves and to create opportunities for them to learn from one another. To that end, Fellows have been organized into three cluster groups based on the themes of urban/food issues, education/mental health and vulnerable persons. Each week, clusters meet via video conference to share updates, challenges and best practices.

Another key aspect of the program is outreach. Fellows are encouraged to identify relevant stakeholders and actors associated with their focus areas and to gain experience conducting primary research. They are also given opportunities to connect with a variety of partners in the social connectedness movement to consult their expertise and expand their professional networks. Examples include Human Rights Watch, Special Olympics, The Stop Community Food Centre, Jubilee Sailing Trust, and Synergos, among others.

Some of the issues this year’s Fellows are focusing on include:

  • The causes and effects of social isolation among urban Indigenous persons
  • Resilience building among Montreal’s refugee population
  • Effects of climate change on urban poor, malnutrition and food insecurity
  • Mental health policies and services available to McGill students and other universities in Montreal
  • Indicators of social connectedness in community-based food programming
  • Increasing accessibility to mental health services through culture based approaches
  • Impact of media narratives on the inclusion of refugees
  • Impact of social isolation on girls in Ugandan boarding schools
  • Civic assets and place making in the urban environment
  • Theatre as a means of building social connectedness and improving mental health and well-being
  • Access of marginalized children to primary/secondary school and social connectedness
  • Inclusive education and summer programming for children with disabilities
  • Use of technology to build social connectedness for older persons in BC
  • Effect of early arranged marriage on the longer-term life experience of women
  • Challenges faced by refugee claimants with disabilities in Canada
  • Impact of bullying on mental/physical health and effective ways to overcome it
  • Role of youth in community building and fostering social connectedness
  • Intersection of health and social connectedness among youth and adolescents who are HIV+
  • Effect of modern work spaces and the new trend of home-working on social isolation and connectedness

The Social Connectedness Fellowship Program occurs during the spring and summer months and concludes with an event allowing Fellows the opportunity to re-unite and share their work. Fellows’ work will also be shared here so keep checking back for updates!



Going Digital: Who’s Getting Left Behind as Healthcare Innovates? (10/13/2017) - By Elena David, Social Connectedness Fellow 2017: Learn more about the rapid growth of "digital health" and the importance of inclusivity and accessibility within the healthcare field.
What Gardens Can Do for Social and Environmental Sustainability (9/18/2017) - By Anissia Klimova, Social Connectedness Fellow 2017: Learn more about how gardening can foster connectedness within the communities we belong to and the spaces we inhabit.
The Population in Waiting (9/14/2017) - By Eden Beschen, Social Connectedness Fellow 2017: Looking at the accessibility barriers individuals with disabilities still face in Canada. Learn more about how these are being tackled to create inclusive spaces.
Active Learning Classrooms: A Solution to Social Isolation in Higher Education (9/11/2017) - By Gal Kramer, Social Connectedness Fellow 2017: Find out how universities are re-thinking their classroom spaces to better facilitate student learning and foster community.
This City is Rated G (9/7/2017) - By Karina Alibhai, Social Connectedness Fellow 2017: As the population ages worldwide, large urban centres are working towards making cities age-friendly and suitable for all. Learn more about initiatives fostering inclusive spaces through community based approaches.
Reflecting on Mental Health Care in Uganda (9/1/2017) - By Fauziat Serunjogi, Social Connectedness Fellow 2017: A number of barriers exist in the mental health care system of Uganda. Learn more about how this issue greatly impacts individuals in rural areas and what is being done to tackle the stigma they experience.