Greg Van alstyne

Greg Van Alstyne is an accomplished futurist, designer, educator and researcher with extensive experience in creative concept development, writing, visualization, art direction, and design management. His strengths include presentation, process facilitation, and team management, as well as program development, group critique, and evaluation. Greg's career spans more than twenty-five years, including interaction, communication and exhibition design, design strategy, strategic foresight and innovation consulting.

Donate your Textbooks!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 10:00am

There is a permanent dropbox located on the second floor in the "Student Lounge".

Don't have time?

You can also schedule an office pickup!

Find more information at

If you have any questions please send an email to:


Relating Systems Thinking & Design 5: Leading Thinkers Converge in Toronto

Liz Sanders presents at RSD5 Symposium
Monday, October 31, 2016 - 2:45pm

The fifth Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD5) symposium took place at OCAD University and MaRS Discovery District from October 13 to 15, 2016. The symposium presented work from the developing intersection of systems perspectives and strategic design known as systemic design. RSD focused this year’s event on systemic design for social complexity, such as the design problems of sustainable business, good governance, social services, urban design, healthcare services, human flourishing, and the intersections of these domains. RSD featured leading presenters from around the world with significant research, validated applications, and engaging workshops.

Peter Jones (RSD5 lead chair and OCAD U professor, Design for Health and Strategic Foresight and Innovation) notes: “We are continuing a tradition started a few years ago in Oslo. RSD combines the deep legacies of systems and cybernetics with today’s emerging design practices and teaching to share in compelling talks and intimate dialogue to bear on many of the complex human challenges we all face in an over-modernized civilization.”

The 2016 symposium featured five keynote speakers:

  • Humberto Maturana, founder of the Santiago School of cognitive science, and originator of the sciences of autopoiesis, evolutionary drift, and structural coupling;
  • Aleco Christakis, (with Maria Kakoulaki), visionary of science of dialogic design, leading thinker in social systems design since the Club of Rome’s “Predicament”;
  • Paul Pangaro, a visionary in design cybernetics, now heading the Interaction Design program at Detroit’s CCS design school;
  • Erik Stolterman, Chair of Informatics at Indiana University, co-author of The Design Way (with Harold Nelson), editor of MIT Press Design Thinking/Design Theory series;
  • Liz Sanders, founder of MakeTools, a leader in generative design thinking, human-centered design, and emerging practice, and co-author of Convivial Toolbox.

RSD is an annual symposium presented by the Systemic Design Research Network, an organization that advances the integration of systems thinking and design, to help individuals and organizations take action towards improving the wicked, interconnected challenges facing our planet. For more information visit:

More about Design for Health:

Green Exchange

Green Exchange
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 - 4:00am to Thursday, October 23, 2008 - 4:00am

In conjunction with Waste Reduction Week, OCAD's Sustainability Task Force invites OCAD students, faculty and staff to exchange or recycle outdated electronics.

Many people have the knowledge, but do not have the means to properly recycle technology. Over the course of two days, the OCAD community can bring in outdated electronics and either leave it for another person to reuse or to have it properly recycled.

Drop off old mobile phones, computers and related items (including peripherals like keyboards, mice, cables, monitors, printers, PDAs etc.), old TVs*, VCRs or other entertainment devices, as well as old batteries and printer cartridges. What can be reused will be salvaged by those that want it, while non-salvageable will be collected by Greentec for proper dismantlement, salvage, recycling and disposal.

Please note that all personal data should be erased from devices prior to drop off.

*Older wooden-boxed televisions cannot be accepted.

Come by to pick up information on living a more sustainable lifestyle, and your chance to win green prizes or giveaways!

IT Service and Campus Life are actively seeking modest sponsorships from vendors and other partners to cover associated costs for the event.

The Green Exchange is organized by OCAD’s Sustainability Task Force, and generously supported by the Office the of President, Office of the Vice-President, Finance & Administration, OCADSU, IT Services, the Service Bureau, Campus Life & Career Services, AV & Imaging Services, Human Resources, Admissions & Recruitment, Green Palette, Xerox, Bullfrog Power, Zerofootprint, IBM, Loblaws, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Aboveground Art Supplies and Toronto Hydro.

Venue & Address: 
OCAD Main Lobby 100 McCaul St., Toronto, Ontario

Estisol Workshop with Mark Bovey

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 - 1:00pm

On Tuesday, April 22, the Printmaking program at OCAD is conducting a workshop on the introduction of a new vegetable-based cleaning agent, Estisol, to replace the use of the traditional solvents currently in use. The introduction of Estisol at OCAD is a significant step in the "greening" of the Printmaking program.

Mark Bovey, Assistant Professor of Art, NSCAD University will be leading the workshop for all Printmaking Faculty and support staff. This initiative is supported in part by the office of the Vice-President Academic.

Venue & Address: 
Printmaking, Level 3, Nora E. Vaughan Wing 100 McCaul St., Toronto, Ontario

Launch: Zerofootprint Carbon Calculator

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm

OCAD President Sara Diamond and the university’s new Sustainability Task Force wish to invite you to the OCAD launch of the Zerofootprint energy calculator.

Sara Diamond and Ron Dembo, Founder and CEO of Zerofootprint, will be on hand to launch the Zerofootprint Calculator to the OCAD student, faculty and staff community and to speak about the partnership between OCAD and Zerofootprint.

About Zerofootprint:
The City of Toronto is partnering with Zerofootprint to launch Zerofootprint Toronto, the first ever community-wide initiative aimed at engaging all citizens to fight climate change on a massive scale.

"Zerofootprint targets large organizations such as collections of cities, multinational corporations, universities, schools and multinational communities, which may span many countries. We enable them with infrastructure that can measure, aggregate, track and manage their individual and combined footprint. We also provide them with the tools to foster a local marketplace with news, events and green commerce."

OCAD Sustainability Initiative:
OCAD is committed to advancing responsible environmental practices and promoting sustainability both through research and programs, as well as operationally. OCAD wishes to engage our community, both internally and externally, in dialogue and actionable means for waste reduction, recycling and reducing carbon emissions. The university will continue to support and launch a number of initiatives that reflect the concern the OCAD community shares regarding sustainability, and will continue to champion innovation that brings solutions to this important issue.

Venue & Address: 
Room 187, Level 1 100 McCaul St., Toronto, Ontario

Building Sustainability: Manufacturing Neighborhoods

Monday, February 25, 2008 - 11:30pm

In collaboration with the Gardiner Museum, Architecture for Humanity
Toronto presents the second instalment in its Building Sustainability
lecture series, featuring a panel of the city's pre-eminent thinkers.

Together, these experts from the design, planning and health professions
will discuss the fundamental building blocks of community design, and
the challenges associated with bringing all of these sometimes
contradictory elements together into a vibrant, healthy and cohesive
Our current list of distinguished panellists includes the director of the Centre for
Urban and Community Studies at the University of Toronto, David Hulchanski;
notable Toronto architect and urban designer, Ken Greenberg; endocrinologist
and health services researcher at St. Michael's Hospital, Dr. Gillian Booth; from
the Family Service Association of Toronto, Shokofeh Dilmaghani and Bruce
Hinds from the design faculty at the Ontario College of Art & Design.
With moderator Christopher Hume, Urban Affairs Writer for the Toronto Star and
a guest appearance by city councillor Adam Vaughan.

Please arrive early, seating is limited.

Sponsored in part by the Toronto Society of Architects, the Ontario Healthy Communities
Coalition/ Public Health Agency of Canada and the Phoenix Community Works Foundation

Venue & Address: 
Gardiner Museum, Terrace Room 111 Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario

Building Sustainability: Green Building in an Urban Setting

Monday, November 26, 2007 - 11:30pm

In collaboration with the Gardiner Museum, Architecture for Humanity Toronto is pleased to present a compelling series of lectures exploring the development of sustainable communities.
In this lecture, Dr. David Moses will discuss some of the biggest challenges
when considering sustainable alternatives to standard building practice.
Please also join us in an open-participation discussion immediately following
the lecture.
David Moses is a structural engineer specializing in timber engineering. After joining Equilibrium
Consulting Inc. in Vancouver in 1999, he recently opened an office in Toronto for the Company. His work includes innovative commercial, residential and community-based projects in Canada, the
United States and parts of Asia.
Limited seating, please arrive early.
Organized by OCAD student Heather McGraw.

Venue & Address: 
Gardiner Museum, Jamie Kennedy Attrium 111 Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario

Clean-water design: Health, gender and sustainability

Many in the West take access to clean water for granted. Yet, according to the United Nations, 783 million people — approximately two-and-a-half times the population of the United States — around the world lack such access. Of those, 3.5 million perish every year, most often as a result of poor sanitation and hygiene.

Beyond these staggering morbidity and mortality rates, one of the most surprising and vexing aspects of this issue is that there exist thousands of solutions for cleaning water. They range from high-tech chemical processes to low-tech filters.

Local problems and solutions

According to Sarah Tranum, a professor of social innovation design at OCAD University, “a main reason for this disconnect lies in a lack of sustainable models for distribution and adoption.” Through her CleanCube Project, Tranum is attempting to design an easy-to-use, affordable water-purification method that can be deployed in any shape or sized household water-storage container to remove illness-causing pathogens.

The World Bank estimates that 21 per cent of communicable diseases across India are related to unsafe water.

With funding from Grand Challenges Canada, Tranum is leading her project in South Goa, India. Like thousands of other migrant slums in India and the Global South, that’s a community where human and other forms of waste frequently contaminate drinking water supplies. Coupled with this problem is the lack of economic and social opportunity, especially among women.

Waste and water are inextricably linked in this slum community


Holistic sustainability

“Clean Cube takes a holistic approach to designing a sustainable solution to South Goa’s water needs,” says Tranum. “By sustainability, I’m looking not only at the environment, but also at creating a means for people to continue to gain access to the solution over time.”

In India, Unicef reports that 600,000 children die from diarrhea or pneumonia, often stemming from toxic water and poor hygiene.

A participatory design process is central to Tranum’s approach. “By engaging the community and drawing on its knowledge, CleanCube can be a true reflection of its strengths, weaknesses, needs and desires.” In this regard, Tranum explains, “understanding the daily practices of women has been key.”

Washing clothes from stored water

Women’s work, women’s empowerment

By adapting the most innovative and relevant aspects of decentralized, cooperative Indian businesses such as Lijjad Papad and Amul, Tranum’s pilot project is using small-batch production carried out by women within their homes.

Participating women are able to fit their work around their usual daily responsibilities, while also generating income for their families. “In addition to the immediate benefit of manufacturing clean-water solutions for a population plagued by unsanitary water,” Tranum notes, “taking part in the CleanCube production process holds the potential of giving women a stronger voice within their households and broader community.” 

Video produced by Martin Iskander
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Earth Hour boosted to 24 hours

Poster for Earth Hour
Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 4:00am

OCAD University is doing things differently this Earth Hour.

Since 2009, Facilities Management has employed electricians to power down the lights in classrooms, studios and offices for Earth Hour. But the reality is it takes a lot longer than an hour to complete the task, and it can cost about $750 in labour. And, now that OCAD University’s facilities are open 24/7, if we took that approach this year the inconvenience to students would be substantial.

Facilities Management is, instead, teaming up with the Sustainability Committee to invest $1,200 in clean-energy generation through Bullfrog Power. As a result, the entire OCAD U campus will be carbon-neutral for 24 hours!

The Sustainability Committee welcomes ideas that support social wellness and ecological responsibility. Please email Cathy Cappon, Manager, ODESI, with your input.