U.lab Hub

Building on the success of the 2019-2020 inaugural year, Pitt u.lab hub is starting the 2020-21 annual cycle and welcoming a new cohort of hub members! Due to the pandemic, all our fall 2020 programs will be conducted virtually on Mighty Network. Click here to join the network.  


The mission of the Pitt u.lab hub is to provide Theory U based support infrastructure for socially and organizationally innovative ideas and projects in the Pittsburgh region.


The Pitt u.lab hub envisions an annual support infrastructure for social innovation, where socially innovative ideas from grassroots are systematically identified, supported, and eventually formalized as sustainable projects that serve the wellbeing of local communities.


The Pitt u.lab hub is led by a hosting team who serve as liaison among the coaching circles, co-facilitate the live sessions and make decisions for the well-being of the community.

The hosting team for the 2020-21 Pitt u.lab hub consists of the following leaders:

Gemma Jiang, PhD
Founding Director, Organizational Innovation Lab, University of Pittsburgh

As a complexity scholar and practitioner, Gemma is committed to bridging the “knowing-doing” gap by building capacity for addressing complex social challenges. She  is currently involved in a wide range of projects, including a National Science Foundation funded project on circular economy.  She is the founding host of the Pitt u.lab hub and works with a team of co-hosts to oversee the wellbeing of the hub. 

Her message to u.lab hub members:
“I am looking forward to this new year of u.lab adventure with you!”

Erika Strassburger
Pittsburgh City Council Person

Erika is an multi-issue advocate, a member of Pittsburgh City Council, and a lifelong learner. With big and increasingly urgent challenges before us, Erika sees the need for cross-sector cooperation, understanding, and partnership. 

Her message to u.lab hub members:
“I look forward to embarking on the u.lab journey with you all and becoming more engaged with the Pitt u.lab hub.”

Ron Idoko, MPA
Diversity and Multicultural Program Manager, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, University of Pittsburgh

In his role as Diversity and Multicultural Program Manager, Ron provides strategic and programmatic leadership for diversity and inclusion initiatives that advance diversity as a critical component of social, academic and intellectual life at the University.  He is also an instructor in the Public Service program at the University of Pittsburgh, where he facilitates courses that address challenges and opportunities for diversity, equity, and inclusion within public service.

His message to u.lab hub members:
“I am excited to connect and build a community for social change with everyone.”

Who is Pitt u.lab hub for

Pitt u.lab hub is for anybody interested in taking the MITx MOOC u.lab: Leading from the Emerging Future and practicing the Theory U framework and methods in a community. This may include professionals from University of Pittsburgh and surrounding communities. Last year about 80% of our hub members came from Pitt, and 20% from surrounding communities. We welcome diverse representation from different parts of the social change ecosystem in Pittsburgh. 

While there is no prerequisite or educational requirement to join, please know that the u.lab  hub explicitly embraces Theory U as a guiding framework for awareness-based systemic change.

What we offer

All activities of the Pitt u.lab hub are synchronized with the annual Societal Transformational Lab led by the Presencing Institute. The goal of the Societal Transformation Lab is to facilitate the evolution from ego-system awareness to eco-system awareness, in order to create solutions that serve the wellbeing of all. 

Please sign up for our newsletter to stay updated about our activities for the 2020-21 annual cycle. 

U.lab 1X

The u.lab 1X: Leading from the Emerging Future is a 14-week massive open online course (MOOC) that teaches the principles and practices of Theory U, an awareness-based social technology for leading profound societal change. Since its launch in 2015, this MOOC has activated a global ecosystem of societal and personal renewal involving more than 200,000 users from 185 countries.

The Pitt u.lab hub hosts gatherings for the four live sessions of the MOOC, where u.lab hub participants in the Pittsburgh region can interact with each other and practice their learnings together.

U.lab 2X

U.lab 2x is designed to help teams, organizations and larger networks to apply learning from u.lab 1x in their stakeholder systems. Participating teams will join a four-month, online and offline innovation journey that includes systems mapping, rapid cycle prototyping and a global action research network for knowledge sharing.

What are some of the benefits of joining the Pitt u.lab hub

Pitt u.lab hub has a lot to offer to its members. To name just a few: systems leadership development with Theory U framework, cross-sector relationship building, local and global movement building, and prototype development support. We are committed to providing the support infrastructure for socially innovative ideas, and in the process uniting aspiring change makers from across Pittsburgh and beyond. 

Our inaugural cohort (2019-2020) of the Pitt u.lab hub participants appreciated the diversity in the community, the transformational journey they embarked on in their personal and professional life, and the safe space for reflection the hub provided them. 

What is the Adaptive Space and what is its relationship with Pitt u.lab hub

Adaptive Space (2020–21) is an evolution of the Pitt u.lab hub (2019–20). While continuing to serve Pitt u.lab hub’s original intention of supporting a learning community for the MITx MOOC u.lab: Leading from the Emerging Future, the Adaptive Space program has developed capacity to offer much more. It is one step further in prototyping a holding space for personal, organizational and societal transformation in Pittsburgh.

There are two parts to the Adaptive Space fall 2020 program:

The Adaptive Space Network

The Adaptive Space network, hosted within the Mighty Network platform, is free to join. Click here to join the network.  

Within this network, we continue to offer Pitt u.lab hub specific activities, such as monthly live sessions that correspond with the u.lab MOOC, and coaching circles as close-knit peer support groups. In addition, we will also host more activities to build stronger communities. Along this line, we plan to host conversations with “local heroes”, profile projects from network members, lead book clubs, and conduct open inquiries on certain topics. The possibilities are infinite.

The Adaptive Space Course

The Adaptive Space Course: Ways of Being and Seeing in Social Complexity is a new offering this year. This 12-week course is an experience in community for learning: support, retreat and reflection-for-action, emphasizing ideas and practices for improving the way we work in the complexity of community in these times. In this course, we will cover a wide range of topics, including shifting power, seeing social complexity, embracing discomfort and conflict.To learn more about the course, please visit this.

The Adaptive Space spring 2021 program will be shaped by the needs and experience of our Fall participants.

Pitt u.lab in media 

Reflection on the Journey: Hosting the First Pitt U.Lab Hub
A post on Presencing Institute’s Field of Future blog reflecting on the first year of hosting the Pitt u.lab hub

Pitt’s U.lab hub hopes to make the world better
A University Times article on the first u.lab taster session in August 2019

Learn all about the Pitt U.lab Hub

Pitt U.lab Hub Brochure 2020

Pitt U.lab Hub Presentation 2020

Stay in Touch

Important links:

The Pitt u.lab hub would like to thank the generous support of PNC Charitable Trust.