This is Research: V5

A collage of the three this is research posters .

The Office of Research & Innovation is excited to launch the fifth iteration of the "This is Research" campaign to raise awareness about research at OCAD University. This volume features work by Julian Haladyn, Ranee Lee, and David Griffin. To view each poster in the Open Research Repository, please see below. For our official announcement, visit



The State of Blackness Relaunch

Photograph of conference participants smiling and seated in a lecture hall.

The Office of Research and Innovation is pleased to congratulate Dr. Andrea Fatona on the relaunch of her website on scholarship into Black artistic practice and representation, The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation.  

Andrea has been working for years to rectify the absence of Black visual art from “official records”— art critics’ reviews, art archives and other avenues of representation. This initiative is very timely given the current climate of impassioned global protests against pervasive anti-Black racism. Supporting Andrea’s work to raise the profile of Black visual artists in Canada directly connects to the University’s commitment to champion scholarship that presents a fuller picture of the history of art and art makers in Canada.

As Andrea has said, “this resource is about making it clear that we are here and the work is being done. As we try to decolonize spaces, it’s more important than ever to acknowledge artwork by diverse artists.”

The website originally began as a way to document the proceedings of the OCAD U conference organized by Andrea in 2014, The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the two-day event brought together artists, curators and academics to examine the histories, current status and future state of Black diasporic artistic practice and representation in Canada. For Andrea, the event aligned with her broader research interest in inequity in the arts, and how artworks by Black Canadians can reflect more diverse Canadian identities.  

Since the conference, Andrea has been expanding the website’s content to include spin-off projects from the conference: a forum at the 2015 Venice Biennale to build transnational networks for Black Canadian visual artists; a 2017 collaboration with artist-run non-profit video art distributor Vtape to compile data on Black Canadian video production; and a 2020 research residency based at OCAD U that focused on the challenges and possibilities experienced by emerging Black artists from Italy.  

The website includes resources such as essential reading about these issues and Canadian Black-owned bookstores, plus links to accompanying YouTube and Facebook channels. The site’s ongoing development has been financially supported by OCAD U, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. 

Andrea is also pursuing a more comprehensive undertaking: a searchable, web-based, annotated database that includes visual art, analytic essays and research papers, produced by and about, Black Canadian artists, critics and curators from 1989  ̶  when the Canadian Multiculturalism Act was incepted  ̶  to the present.

The above photograph of the conference was taken by Ella Cooper.


Wapatah Launches its Virtual Roundtable Series

A poster for the Indigenizing the Museum event. Black text on a background photograph of hands holding a bird sculpture

Indigenizing the Museum: Language, Vernacular, and Lexicon with Bonnie Devine, Peter Jemison, Arni Brownstone, and Stephen Inglis - Wapatah Launches its Virtual Roundtable Series!

On June 17th, 2020, Wapatah: Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge hosted its first Virtual Roundtable as part of the Virtual Platform for Indigenous Art (VPIA) project and its latest Indigenizing the Museum event series. 

Moderated by Gerald McMaster, this Roundtable brought together Bonnie Devine, Peter Jemison, Arni Brownstone, and Stephen Inglis with the aim of addressing questions around language, lexicon, ownership, repatriation, land, and research as ceremony. The roundtable discussion focused and expanded upon the shift in language used to talk about Indigenous artworks.

The Roundtable Series, Indigenizing the Museum, has been developed as a way to increase Indigenous community and institutional awareness of and involvement in the VPIA as a resource and a knowledge building tool. 

The VPIA is a custom digital platform currently in development by Wapatah at OCAD University, designed to facilitate Indigenous access and contributions to Indigenous artworks in museum and gallery collections around the world. Using a wiki-style approach, the VPIA allows institutional artwork records to be transformed into living documents that integrate Indigenous knowledge, language, and protocols.

Wapatah Team: Dr. Gerald McMaster, Dr. Michael Rattray, Natalja Chestopalova, Brittany Bergin, Mariah Meawasige, Rezvan Boostani, Yiyi Shao, Maya Filipp, Panya Espinal Clark, Alessia Pignotti, Jananda Lima


COVID-19 Printable Project Wins Award

The COVID-19 Printable Project from Dr. Kate Sellen and the Health Design Studio has recently been awarded an IIIDAward from the International Institute for Information Design. The project’s infographic, plain language printables on COVID-19 testing, self-isolation, and self-management are available in over 40 languages and are being downloaded and used in emergency departments, refugee services and community health centers across the world. The project received IIID’s COVID-19 Award as well as a Silver Award in the Emergency/Safety category. The project will be published in the fourth edition of the IIIDaward-book and will be featured in the upcoming IIIDaward-Tour around the world, the first stop for which will be the designforum in Vienna’s Museumquartier. Congratulations!



Image of Youth participants working in groups as part of the Creative Practice as Protest Workshop held at OCAD U in January 202

“It was nice to see everyone coming together to solve problems that not many people take time to figure out. I think that workshops like these enable us and make us feel that our voice does matter” - T. Alexander, Youth Participant, Photographer and Artist, Toronto.

Associate Professor Cheryl Giraudy, Faculty of Design and Assistant Professor Saskia van Kampen, School of Design (San Francisco State University) hosted the workshop ‘Creative Practice as Protest’ (CPP) with SSHRC grant partner Colloqate Design, an award-winning platform for racial, social, and cultural equity of public spaces and places. Co-founder Bryan C. Lee Jr. architect and activist joined the research team including Lead Research Assistant Lena Phillips (Urban Development Planner), assistants Nicholas Sagar (Photography) and Jun Li (Digital Futures) to welcome youth ages18–25 from across Toronto to share collective aspirations for a more just and equitable Toronto. CPP is one of several events aligned with the research project Design ManifesT.O. (DM2020) launched at DesignTO in 2019. The project is a two-year effort to learn about grassroots initiatives fostering respectful design for placemaking, and place-keeping, and has engaged over 100 participants to date, including community youth leaders attending the workshop. 30 youth participants registered for the event and a further 42 were on a waiting list. The response indicates the need for greater opportunities for youth to come together to vision a future based on real world experience and imagination of what can be. Listening to the deep and heartfelt stories of trying to keep and make spaces/places in the city reflect and respect the communities they serve via the open forums and workshops is yielding both expected and unexpected outcomes. DM2020 continues to gather the creative endeavours with an aim of co-designing community-based, socially-driven design tools for inclusive placemaking across Toronto and elsewhere.

To learn more about the CCP and this research please visit and

Photo by Saskia Van Kampen.


Health Design Studio's New Space + Their COVID-19 Response

A photograph of one of the printables lying on a wooden desk. The printable contains information on self-management of COVID-19 symptoms.

OCAD University’s Health Design Studio, led by Dr. Kate Sellen, Canada Research Chair in Design for Health, moved into its newly renovated space at on the 3rd floor of 205 Richmond Street West earlier this year.   

With funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) and the Ontario Research Fund – Small Infrustructure Program, the Health Design Studio has been outfitted with a new user testing space, prototype development space and collaborative workshop space to support leading-edge research into the design of tools and systems used in highly dynamic and urgent situations in health care. 

Sellen and her research team bring an inclusive and interdisciplinary design approach to healthcare design challenges. Much of their work focuses on design for safety critical and high sensitivity topics, including the dosing, ordering, tapering, and management of opiates, and communication at end of life. Sellen is also designing effective information tools to perform small, discreet tasks in health care. Many of her projects are centered on developing new ways to represent information in specific medical situations, such as medication calculations, as well as tools to support complex tasks and information for dynamic situations, such as emergencies.  

One such project is the COVID-19 printables project. Launched on February 27th, the project is a response to a call from emergency physicians in Toronto and Alberta for patient-centered communication tools for rapid assessment centers and emergency departments. The resulting infographic, plain language handouts on testing, self-isolation, and self-management are now available in over 40 languages. The printables are being downloaded and used in emergency departments, refugee services and community health centers, both in Canada and worldwide, and have been endorsed by the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians and the Canadian Institute for Health Information. They address the need for easy to understand, editable and shareable resources based on current guidelines. 

The next phase of the project seeks to convert the existing printables into digital animations with voiceover for spread over social media in top priority languages. 

The success of this project has prompted several requests for the Health Design Studio to also create resources on self-isolation and social distancing in apartment and condominium buildings, and supports for end of life decision making and mental health concerns related to COVID-19, amongst others. 


Empathy + Social Insight Micro-certification

Work on the eCampusOntario funded pilot project to create a micro-certification in Human Centred Product Design has concluded with the development of the first in a series of 5 micro-certifications. Empathy + Social Insight is scheduled to be delivered online through the Office of Continuing Studies this coming May 2020.

The purpose of developing this micro-certification was to create a learning opportunity that would recognize both the vertical and transversal skills of early to mid-career individuals looking to either upgrade their skills or retraining to explore new opportunities, resulting in a holistic representation of their abilities and achievements.

A trans-disciplinary team made up of individuals from Faculty of Curriculum Development Centre, Office of Continuing Studies, the Office of Research + Innovation as well as representatives from our industry partner, Myant Inc., met regularly over the past 4 months to collaborate on this project. The team worked together to find specific evidence that the micro-credential earners would value, and to identify the framework and tools that would be most applicable in the development of OCAD University’s first solo micro-credential.  

Empathy + Social Insight micro-certification has been added to the list of pre-requisites for the Continuing Studies User Experience (UX) Design and Development Skills Certificate. Initial response has been positive with students registering in the course, and institutional partners interested including it as part of their distance learning offerings. For more information go to the Office of Continuing Studies website.


Research Services Support

Let us help you! If you have questions, we have the answers (or we’ll help you find them). Researchers can now schedule one-on-one consultations with research staff to discuss questions or concerns about various research components like grant application, grants administration, research ethics, research technology and much more.

The consultation service will be live as of May 1, 2020 and can be accessed here:



Research Services Support

Let us help you! If you have questions, we have the answers (or we’ll help you find them). Researchers can now schedule one-on-one consultations with research staff to discuss questions or concerns about various research components like grant application, grants administration, research ethics, research technology and much more.

The consultation service will be live as of May 1, 2020 and can be accessed here:



This is Research: Summer Seminar Series

The Research office is currently working on another installment of the This Is Research project with the launch of a Summer Seminar Series scheduled for release mid-May.

The Summer Seminar Series is intended to celebrate the incredible talent of the university professoriate, showcase the research that is being conducted on campus, and provide an opportunity for the public to delve deeper into the purpose of the research, its application and potential impact on their lives.

We’ve had a terrific response from faculty so far, and over the coming days will be conducting one-on-one interviews that will be broadcast through social media with a call to the public to register for a free online seminar offered through Continuing Studies. Each week, the seminar will feature a new research project, adding to the richness of the conversation and the potential for synergistic outcomes.

The initial launch of the Summer Seminar Series will include four research projects, with a plan to add more throughout the summer. If you are interested in showcasing your research project through this initiative, please contact To learn more about this series, and to register to participate in the seminars go to the Continuing Studies website and search for This Is Research: Summer Seminar Series.