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!



Fostering Social Connectedness Through Nature and Art (7/19/2017) - By MJ Gauthier, Social Connectedness Fellow: With environmental degradation an ongoing issue today, our relationship with nature is critical. Read more on how art, particularly that of Indigenous peoples, can help foster a greater sense of connectedness with our planet.
No One Left Behind: Towards More Inclusive Humanitarian Action (7/14/2017) - By Laura Hamdan, Social Connectedness Fellow: With an estimated 6.7 milllion individuals living with a disability having been forcibly displaced due to conflict or persecution, learn more about how Canada and other countries are working towards more inclusive humanitarian action.
“Co-opping” with Loneliness (7/10/2017) - By Shelbie Huard, Social Connectedness Fellow: Amidst the rise of homeworking and virtual offices in today's economy, loneliness and social isolation have become a growing concern for professionals. Learn more about how co-working spaces are tackling this issue and fostering a new type of work community.
Living with a Disability in Uganda (7/7/2017) - By Jessica Meirovici, Social Connectedness Fellow: With approximately 2.5 million children living with some form of disability in Uganda, several organizations there are working to advance inclusive education. Learn more about these initiatives.
Our Financial Future Needs More Than Financial Ends (7/6/2017) - By Claire Chauvel, Social Connectedness Fellow: Learn more about impact investing and the importance of changing the definition of value - added to one where social inclusion is at the heart of the 21st century global economy.
Remembering the Rwandan Genocide Through Public Spaces (7/4/2017) - By Ana Sofia Hibon, Social Connectedness Fellow: Learn more about the ongoing process of Kwibuka in Rwanda, which is helping individuals to remember the Rwandan Genocide and further reconciliation.