Program Philosophy

Photograph of a student presenting their project

Global MINDS offers learning and development opportunities for students, faculty and community leaders from multiple disciplines and at different stages of training. The processes, conditions and tools supporting disruptive innovation are layered into each of the these opportunities and are drawn from our Guiding Principles:

1. Create a Culture of Innovation. An innovative climate is one that cultivates engagement and enthusiasm, challenges people to take risks within a safe environment, fosters learning, and encourages independent thinking.

2. Foster Cultural Humility. Working in international and cross-cultural contexts requires our learners and faculty to consider both the goals and processes of traditional/local cultural constructs, paradigms and approaches to mental disorders and professional education. This requires a process-oriented approach to cultural safety, a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique, and a desire to attend to and repair power imbalances. 

3. Participate Authentically. Achieve competence though authentic participation in situations that are real, dynamic and emergent, distributed across networks (communities of practice) and a constantly evolving set of multiple and interconnecting people, tools, teams and work.

4. Be Disruptive To Be Innovative. A disruptive innovation is one that displaces an existing approach to produce something new, more efficient and effective. To create the conditions that lead to the development of solutions that disrupt existing approaches and static notions of mental health care systems, we need to first be disruptive in the way we communicate, teach and learn.  

5. Build Communities of Practice. By leveraging across and within the disciplines such as medicine, health and social sciences, education, business, information and media studies and the humanities, we bring together people who are engaged and motivated to to tackle complex challenges in new ways.

We believe social innovation is a process, requiring an equilibrium of growth for the “system” and “self in order to create long-lasting and impactful change. Thus, we've created a Social Innovation System Cycle and a Innovation & Self model that weave with one another throughout our training and educational offerings.

Social Innovation System cycle

The Global MINDS Social Innovation System Cycle engages high-performing teams (students, academic and community coaches, community partner representatives) to critically engage in the process of sense-making, ideating, prototyping, implementation and evaluation, and dissemination activities (see below).


This intentional process welcomes rapid experimentation with iterative feedback cycles, in order to:

  • wholly embrace the complex challenge,
  • accelerate collaboative creativity, and
  • enhance impactful and meaningful innovation outcomes.

Social innovation & Self

Being a changemaker is both a deeply personal and highly social undertaking. It requires a belief in oneself to be an agent of change. It entails a deep understanding of what the current state is, but also an unwavering optimism and commitment to imagining and striving to achieve what could be. It involves an intentional practice of being open to learn from multiple perspectives. It necessitates an ability to embrace uncertainty and failure as opportunities for growth. Above all, it demands compassion and authenticity, including a profound acceptance of and connection to the self, to others and to what is ‘bigger than ourselves’.

To foster these in our leadership team, collaborators and partners, students and faculty, and communities, in the collective work we do, we use and integrate components of “self”. This includes: mindfulness; social & emotional competencies; personal impact; critical reflection & reflexitivy; and collective wisdom. 

Together, these components support an individual’s transformative self-growth, including a commitment to: life-long learning, professionalism, advocacy, scholarly excellence, resilience and radical collaboration.


We have drawn on a a diverse array of expertise and knowledges (ways of knowing) while developing our Philosophy, including: 

1. The strengths of a Social Innovation Lab (SIL), which brings people together at a time when persistent problems, disruptive changes or a crisis demand: 1) sense-making (understanding what is happening and why) which in turn infuses a situation with meaning and the motivation to act; 2) identifying the new emerging patterns, programs, initiatives, ideas that could transform the problem domain; and 3) identifying the opportunities to shape or influence new partnerships, resource flows and protocols that could support such transformation (Westley and Laban, 2015).  The SIL model combines social (diverse participants acting collaboratively), experimental (iterative process of developing strategy and actions) and systemic (addressing root causes, focused on systems change not quick fix) elements. Its tools will include design thinking (ethnographic research, prototyping), systems thinking (systems mapping, systems and group dynamics, scaling) and ones derived from other relevant fields (e.g., change management, social movement theory).

2. Leveraging Social Entrepreneurship (SE), which involves applying practical, innovative and sustainable approaches that cut across sectors and disciplines to benefit society in general, with an emphasis on those who are marginalized. Key attributes of SE as applied to addressing mental health inequities are: 1) Highly innovative – address mental health (broadly defined) in ways that represent new approaches to care; 2) Sustainable – the innovative approach can be successfully implemented and demonstrate sustainability fiscally and otherwise; 3) Reach and transferable – the approach can meaningfully engage the communities (to be) served and represents a model that could be implemented in other jurisdictions and at other times; and  4) Effective and Resourceful – the individuals involved readily take advantage of opportunities to expand their work and demonstrate a strong capacity to persevere despite few resources and other forms of adversity (Kidd et al., 2016).

3. Grounding ourselves in the values of Mindfulness Without Borders (MWB) and their Mindfulness Ambassador Program (MAP). At the heart of MAP are mindfulness practices that help individuals access the widsdom within themselves and within the group. By practicing twelve principles, members are provided with tools to strengthen their well-being, think critically, act with compassion and develop resilience. Thus, MAP empowers individuals, teams and communities with social and emotional learning competencies to tabkle the challenges of an increasingly complex world (MWB, 2017).