News Release
June 10, 2021

The City of Toronto, in partnership with eight of the City’s Higher Education Institutes (HEI), is presenting CivicLabTO Academic Summit & Discussion Series: Collaborating on Renewal and Resilience.

The virtual summit, which is scheduled for November 23 and 24, 2021, will feature panel discussions and plenary presentation aimed at forging deeper ties between academic researchers from Toronto’s HEI partners, city-building practitioners and senior City staff. The effective use of technological platforms will enable inter-sectoral collaboration, knowledge exchange and capacity building. The discussion series will begin with a virtual session on June 10, 2021. This introductory conversation is the first of several events taking place which will bring together academic staff, faculty, researchers, students, City staff and thought leaders to discuss key themes in support of recovery and rebuild and the opportunities to collaborate on solutions.

With the support of a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Humber College and York University are taking a lead in the coordination and hosting of the events. Summit partners are coming together to collaborate with the City on the development of creative problem-solving and capacity building to address challenges Toronto is facing as a result of, and which have been magnified by, the pandemic.

This initiative is core to the broader CivicLabTO programming bringing together students, faculty, researchers and City staff to seek opportunities for sharing of information and best practices, as well as to identify opportunities to enhance coordination, collaboration, research, and program innovation.

Through its partnerships with Toronto’s universities and colleges, the City offers students and faculty:

  • an opportunity for exposure to real life problems and complex challenges,
  • a chance to engage in change strategies and innovation,
  • opportunities to test theories and conduct research,
  • experiential learning opportunities, and
  • possibilities for networking.

In return, academic partners offer the City:

  • innovation,
  • intellectual capital and energy,
  • information for modelling and critical analysis,
  • research and evaluation capacity, and
  • the ability to raise research funds.

Further, the opportunity for longer-term, focused, yet multi-faceted partnerships can feed into grounded research and stronger public policy development in the ever-changing urban landscape.

This is a model of collaboration which all partners are proud to support, bringing the best of what they know to help our community.

Free registration and more information are available at


“We’ve seen throughout the pandemic the importance of all governments working together along with all of our partners. CivicLabTO is an example of our excellent partnership between the City of Toronto and our higher education partners. I look forward to seeing the results of the academic summit and discussion series and the innovative solutions that this partnership will provide to help us better serve our residents.”

– Mayor John Tory

“Partnerships between city governments and academia create a unique opportunity to engage students and academics in important research to inform policy and program development, support evaluation and measurement and foster innovation, excellence and community building. We are proud to collaborate with our eight academic partners within the city to ensure Toronto remains and leads as an innovation hub. Our collective efforts will incubate and accelerate innovation.”

– Chris Murray, City Manager, City of Toronto

“Addressing complex issues like the pandemic, inequality and sustainability requires cross-sectoral collaboration between all levels of government, post-secondary education institutions, the private sector, and community practitioners and organizations. York University is proud to lead the development and coordination of events for the CivicLabTO Academic Summit and Discussion Series, which will facilitate the sharing of knowledge between senior city staff, city builders, and postsecondary institutions as we look to design policies and practices that will help the many diverse communities within Toronto recover and flourish.”

– Rhonda L. Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor, York University

“We are proud to work alongside York University and the City of Toronto, as Humber participates in the inaugural CivicLabTO Academic Summit and Discussion Series. Humber has a history of fostering collaboration, both within our city and globally, and with this Summit we look forward to deeper understanding, partnership and connection between our civic policy creators and our academic researchers. With a collaborative spirit of renewal and resilience and a focus on EDI, we are finding exciting solutions for Toronto, both now and post-pandemic, and creating pathways that move all of us forward together.”

– Chris Whitaker, president and CEO, Humber College.

“At Ryerson University, we know our success goes hand in hand with the success of our city. Being city builders is a role we take very seriously; we are gratified to be part of this important project which will tap into Ryerson’s energy and expertise to develop research and solutions to help Toronto build back better.”

– Mohamed Lachemi, President and Vice-Chancellor, Ryerson University

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with far-reaching challenges, but also with an extraordinary opportunity: as we recover, the City of Toronto can re-emerge as a healthier, smarter city. And as a higher education institution, we have a key role to play. At George Brown, we’re proud to be connected to industry and community partners as we co-create future learning. We build on our strengths in the Toronto community, and we respond to the global market of education and job preparation. We provide employers access to the next generation of talent as we prepare learners for the future of work. Through CivicLabTO, we can leverage city building research and collaborate to find solutions to our biggest challenges.”

– Anne Sado, President, George Brown College

“At OCAD University, our faculty, researchers and graduates are actively engaged in addressing real-world problems with creative solutions in diverse sectors such as health care, technology and more. We look forward to our ongoing collaborations with the City of Toronto, Toronto’s higher education institutions and governments of Ontario and Canada to support the City of Toronto as it recovers and rebuilds back even better.”

– Ana Serrano, President and Vice-Chancellor, OCAD University

“Harnessing our collective expertise to address deep-rooted, socio-economic inequities and channeling our creative energies into building a brighter, more equitable, post pandemic future is exactly the way to go, so thank you for this discussion series. Centennial will be engaged in this series every step of the way: enhancing access to learning through flexible pathways and community engagement, decolonizing and Indigenizing institutional practices, and promoting innovative programming to strengthen employability and research support in key areas such as aerospace and clean technology.”

– Craig Stephenson, President, Centennial College

“CivicLabTO is all about harnessing the collective strengths of Toronto’s higher education institutions, to solve problems and seize opportunities facing their host city. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, and the U of T community is excited to see what else we can achieve together.”

– Meric Gertler, President, University of Toronto

“Seneca is delighted to join our Toronto postsecondary colleagues and the City of Toronto in support of the CivicLabTO Academic Summit & Discussion Series. A successful pandemic recovery will require our collective dedication and creativity to find sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by our most vulnerable communities.”
– David Agnew, President, Seneca College

“eCampusOntario is pleased to participate in supporting the City of Toronto and Toronto’s eight colleges and universities to foster and generate creative solutions to our collective challenges. By working together we will ensure that our post-pandemic recovery is equitable and resilient. We look forward to continuing to support our communities by helping to foster partnerships for inclusive innovation.”
– Robert Luke, Chief Executive Officer, eCampus Ontario

About York University

York University is a modern, multi-campus, urban university located in Toronto, Ontario. Backed by a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners, we bring a uniquely global perspective to help solve societal challenges, drive positive change and prepare our students for success. York’s fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario’s Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education. York’s campuses in Costa Rica and India offer students exceptional transnational learning opportunities and innovative programs. Together, we can make things right for our communities, our planet, and our future.

About Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning

Humber College is focused on our students’ future. As a global leader in polytechnic education, Humber students receive in-depth theoretical learning and hands-on experience with applied research and extensive industry connections. Humber provides career-focused education to more than 33,000 full-time and 23,000 part-time and continuing education students across three campuses. A comprehensive range of credentials, including honours undergraduate degrees, Ontario graduate certificates, diplomas, apprenticeships and certificates, prepare career-ready global citizens to move seamlessly from education to employment. More than 86 per cent of Humber graduates are employed within six months of completing their studies. Visit

June 11 at 6 p.m. – This release was updated with a quote from President of Seneca College.

Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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