Reimagining Livelihoods Forum: Making a Living and a Life

The “Reimagining Livelihoods” Forum will be hosted by the Live Work Well Research Centre (LWWRC), University of Guelph. This two-day hybrid forum will be held on August 23rd and 24th, with in-person components taking place at 10 Carden Shared Space, 42 Carden St., in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Lunch will be provided to those attending in person. To register for this free event, access the links on the Events page for the forum

View the Reimagining Livelihoods Forum Program.

What are "livelihoods"?

Livelihoods are about making a living and a life. They describe the means to secure the necessities of life – through practices such as paid work, caregiving, volunteering, market gardens, fishing, artistry, bartering, and others. 

We are living in a time of change and uncertainty, given our current pandemic reality, rising sociopolitical conflicts, and intensifying climate change – among other challenges. This presents an opportunity to reimagine what “livelihoods” are made of, and collaboratively identify the supports, structures, and systems we need to live and work well. 

What is the Reimagining Livelihoods Forum about?

The overall goal of the “Reimagining Livelihoods” Forum is to share, discuss, and engage with diverse perspectives, experiences, and knowledges about livelihoods. We aim to address the following themes: 

Theme 1: Exploring Livelihoods

We will explore different forms and dimensions of livelihoods, including: labour, employment, and livelihoods; parenting and livelihoods; graduate and mature students’ experiences of livelihoods; well-being in and outside of institutional and formal work spaces; and material and non-material barriers to well-being.

Theme 2: Using an Intersectional Livelihoods Approach

We will use an intersectional livelihoods approach to understand topics including: influences of social contexts on livelihood choices; tensions around family support; in-person and online social networks; intersections of culture, race, ethnicity, and accessibility; health and disability; poverty, precarity, and homelessness; age and aging processes; gender and sexuality; gender-based violence; education and training; and thinking through ways of making a living beyond paid employment.

Theme 3: Reimagining Livelihoods

We will reimagine livelihoods through: asking how we can live and work well despite existing crises (e.g. growing economic inequality, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic); identifying and challenging power dynamics; creating new common grounds for building solidarity and resistance; and generating space and opportunities for creativity, care, and fulfilment within our homes, communities, and institutions.

Example questions to be discussed throughout the forum include:

  • How do people imagine, find, and create opportunities to take care of themselves, their families, and communities? 
  • What have we learned about diverse people’s livelihoods and how they make choices about how they live and work?   
  • What questions and new insights have come from our work on livelihoods? 
  • How do different social locations (e.g. gender, race, immigration status, language, disability) interact to shape experiences of livelihoods? 
  • How has the pandemic changed our understandings of what it means to live and work well? 
  • What are the necessary supports, structures, and systems for living and working well in our current contexts? 
  • How can we make connections between these diverse experiences and create systemic changes to relevant policies and practices?

What can I expect?

We sought proposals for different types of sessions from community organizations, researchers, academics, students, and other interested parties. Collaboration among community and university partners was strongly encouraged. Participants will have opportunities to engage with community members and leaders, researchers, students, policy-makers, and practitioners to learn from each other about livelihoods, and barriers and opportunities for living and working well. 

Together with our partners, the Live Work Well Research Centre will co-create a multimedia platform to share the outcomes of the forum in creative ways. This platform will provide opportunities for ongoing engagement, contributions, and learning about livelihoods. Resources, recordings, and other session materials will be posted on the multimedia platform.  

All sessions, regardless of format, will address a topic in at least one of the themes identified above. We especially encouraged sessions that highlight stories of community engagement, resilience, and inclusion. 


The Reimagining Livelihoods Forum is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.