ID Sustainability & Systems Thinking Lecture

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - 11:30pm to Thursday, March 10, 2016 - 2:00am

Special lecture event on Sustainability & Systems Thinking

Date: Wednesday 9th March,  6.30-9 pm,

Location:  205 Richmond Street, Room 320 (3rd Floor)

Our three exciting guest lecturers are: 

  1. Jason Dressler, co-director of Toronto based brothers Dressler Design Studio- APPLIED SUSTAINABILITY IN DESIGN & LOCAL MANUFACTURING Brothers Dressler use local, reclaimed, found, ecologically friendly and responsibly harvested materials, working to promote a return to local manufacturing and resources. Our design process uses as much of each material as possible, giving cut-offs and waste streams new life as creative new products. As fine craft furniture makers specializing in sustainable design it is our purpose to make furniture that offers the opportunity for the conscious consumer to purchase goods that affect positive change.
  2. Wesley Gee - Director of Sustainability at The Works Design Communications Ltd. _ BUSINESS FOCUS ON SUSTAINABILITY Expertise: Sustainability / Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, strategy and action planning; advisory services and project/program management; reporting and communication; stakeholder mapping, engagement and collaboration; materiality analysis and risk/reputation management; strategic community investment; environmental management and climate change.
  3. Bernhard Dietz - SYSTEMS DESIGN & SUSTAINABILITY Branding and Corporate Design Specialist, Sustainability Change Agent, Visual Sense Maker, formerly working at Bruce Mau Design Expertise: Systems Design, Communication, Product Design, Life Cycle assessment, Design Planning, User-centered Design, Design Research
Venue & Address: 
205 Richmond Street Room 320

Sarah Tranum presenting her paper at the 2015 Mumbai Conference

Thursday, December 3, 2015 - 2:00pm

Sarah Tranum, Assistant Professor of Social Innovation in the Faculty of Design, will be presenting her paper, "Designing sustainable clean water solutions using women’s livelihood generation and empowerment strategies", at the International Conference Cumulus Mumbai 2015 "A Vision of Sustainability with Focus on Water". This conference is being hosted by the Industrial Design Centre at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay from December 3-5, 2015, in Mumbai, India.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Reconstructing Resilience

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 - 5:00am to Friday, December 4, 2015 - 5:00am

Reconstructing Resilience is a symposium and exhibition that brings together researchers, artists,
educators, students and community members who are interested in reimagining what it means to be
creatively resilient and sustainable within contemporary society. Hosted by the Impact Economy
Research Hub (IERH) at OCAD University and using varied engagement methods, this event will
highlight local initiatives and act as a knowledge exchange platform for participants.
Resilience, here, refers to a community’s ability to creatively adjust and sustain itself in light of rapid
and occasionally negative change. Sustainability permeates multiple arenas, including economics,
ecology, politics and culture. Reconstructing Resilience will provide the opportunity to examine
intersections of all these spheres.
Is it possible to construct initiatives that truly bridge all four areas of sustainability? What do these
initiatives look like? How is it possible to ensure success, given the diverse intersection of dimensions?
And how do we measure this success? Sprout Guerrilla, an urban gardening business that makes
graffiti art out of moss to counteract air pollution and educate the community about environmental
issues, serves as an illustrative project that addresses these questions.
Reconstructing Resilience invites submissions from researchers, artists, designers and makers. We
welcome submissions in diverse formats, including academic research papers, talks and workshops for
the symposium, and art/craft/design projects suitable for a group exhibition. The exhibition is
scheduled to run from January 15 th – 30 th , 2016 in 49 McCaul street. The symposium will fall on Friday
January 15 th and culminate with the exhibition opening on the evening of the 15 th .
How to apply:
To submit for the exhibition, please send a short bio, statement of interest and 5 -10 supporting
For symposium submissions, please send a short bio, statement of interest and abstract.
To volunteer, please email your preferred area of expertise.
All completed application packs should be sent via email to by 5pm, Friday
December 4 th , 2015. A limited number of bursaries are available for select students, to cover transport
or material costs, please state on your submission if you would like to be considered for funding.

Venue & Address: 
49 McCaul street

Ahmedabad Cross-section

The diversity and dynamism of India play a central role in Photography Professor Peter Sramek’s teaching as well as his own art.

In 2012, for instance, Peter led a workshop on sustainability issues at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad. Back home in Toronto, Peter’s links to India have helped his students expand their knowledge of global art production and concerns. With funding from the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, Peter brought NID’s head of Photography and two students to OCAD U, enabling them to participate in a workshop with his International Collaboration Studio students. Peter has also taken OCAD U students to the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, and he has facilitated online collaborations between photography students in India and Canada.

In this story we have included six of Peter’s photographic collages from his Ahmedabad Cross-section, and a first-person look inside his artistic practice:

During my first visit to Ahmedabad, I was fascinated by the transition from a city with a 600-year history to a modern economic centre. It had just been named “the most livable large city in India” by a national magazine, and was undergoing some major development along the river that divides the old and new cities. Controversial relocation of the urban poor prompted heated discussions as the area was cleared for Governor Modi’s vision.

I walked from the train station in the east of the old city, directly west to the river and then out to the new ring highway. I passed through the lively, old markets, to colonial and post-colonial neighbourhoods and finally out to new commercial developments topped with billboards promoting consumer products, condominium oases and luxury holiday getaways.

The structure of the visual documentation mirrors the experience of walking a line and aims to capture the high energy of this busy city, as well as the contrasts of old and new.


Inaugural Sustainability Forum sparks dialogue

Making seed paper
Faculty Member Lillian Allen
Photo of woman holding up a sign
Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 4:00pm

The lobby of 100 McCaul St. was animated with papermaking workshops, musical performances, research presentations and other activities on Tuesday, November 10th.

The first-ever Sustainability Forum got students, staff and faculty thinking and talking about sustainability in their lives and in the OCAD University community.

Some highlights:

  • Strategic Foresight and Innovation student Ayomide Sami-Orungbe took individual portraits of 50 people and their pledges to commit to sustainability, which were then displayed in a slideshow. 
  • Faculty member Ian Clarke (LASS/IS) presented his project, the Passive Solar Greenhaus, and Roberto Chiotti (Faculty of Design) showed video of his eco-friendly, off-the-grid Straw Bale House.
  • Studio Management highlighted initiatives to reduce, reuse and recycle, and offered bins of free art and design materials available for reuse.

The event was coordinated by the Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives in collaboration with the Sustainability Committee, AV Loans, Copy Print, Facilities Planning Management (Mailroom and Work Order Request), Studio Management and Marketing & Communications.

Camping just got a little more fun — meet the water-powered USB charger

Photo of water-powered USB charger, Coast, being towed behind a canoe
Photo of James Cowan, Industrial Design OCAD grad

Industrial design student Jesse Cowan has solved a problem.

There’s been a boom in enabled gear for outdoor adventurers — Bluetooth fish-finders connected to your phone, Bluetooth speakers and tons of maps and mobile apps for hiking and camping. But how do you charge your devices when you’re off the grid?

Jesse’s created Coast, a USB charger that you toss into the water and clip to your boat. As the charger floats and is pulled in the water, the spinning powers a kinetic turbine. The 7,000 mAh battery can charge your iPhone five times over.

“This is why I love design. It didn’t exist and now it does — I love being creative and making something real” said Jesse. He loves outdoor adventure and noticed there wasn’t anything on the market that could power his gear with water. “It’s a step forward for people to produce our own energy. It’s industrial product design with a meaning.”

Jesse manufactured Coast himself, including using a 3D printer to create the device’s shell. He grew up in Toronto but initially studied anthropology and sociology at Concordia University in Montreal. After first year, he transferred to OCAD University to study industrial design.

Coast won an Umbra Award for industrial design at Grad Ex and Jesse has joined OCAD U's Imagination Catalyst start-up incubator.

Sustainability Forum: On Campus and In Our Communities

Sustainability Forum 2015
Tuesday, November 10, 2015 - 3:00pm to 9:00pm

This event is sponsored by OCAD U’s Sustainability Committee and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives

OCAD U is hosting our first Sustainability Forum! Learn more about how our community weaves sustainability into its teaching, creative work, research and current practices. Add your perspectives to our campus dialogues on advancing sustainability.

The Sustainability Forum will feature:
A Sustainability pledge campaign: An installation using photos designed to create a dialogue of how we understand sustainability on campus

A seed paper making workshop led by grOCAD student group where participants will create seed paper using recycled materials. (Workshop Times: 10:30 am to 11.30 am & 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm)

Resources from OCAD U's Library focusing on sustainability and environmental issues (Pop-Up Library from 12.00 pm to 1.00 pm)

Highlights from the Sustainability Minor offered by Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies

Student posters that showcase art and design work across curriculum and in our community

Work being done throughout the university at an operational level to advance our collective commitment to sustainability

Yirego's demonstration of Drumi, a foot powered washing machine. Drumi is designed by OCAD U Alumni and won the James Dyson Award (2014), Sustainability Design Awards (2013) and many more.

Music by Naomi Dodds (from 10.30 am to 11.50 am)

Food (locally sourced) and Fair Trade Coffee

* Cups and plates provided at this event will be plastic free and made from recycled content. Attendees are welcome to bring their own cups and containers to further reduce the footprint of this event.

Venue & Address: 
Main Lobby OCAD University 100 McCaul Accessible venue American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation provided

Fashion & Sustainability with Kate Black & Kelly Drennan

Image of two women
Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 9:00pm to 11:00pm

How can we mitigate the social and environmental impacts of a trillion dollar industry? 

Health, ethics and environment interact on a global scale in the fashion industry. Mass-production of fast-fashion garments and toxic beauty products has long been the accepted practice within the arcane affairs of the fashion supply chain. Who is driving meaningful change towards social and environmental responsibility? Join us for a talk by Kate Black, author ofMagnifeco: Your Head-to-Toe Guide to Ethical Fashion and Non-Toxic Beauty, followed by a response and questions from Kelly Drennan, PR and event planner at Fashion Takes Action. 

Kate Black is the founder and editor-in-chief of, the digital source for eco-fashion and sustainable living and EcoSessions®, a global platform bringing together designers, industry and consumers to discuss change. A graduate of the University of Toronto, Kate has lived and worked in many fashion centers of the world and written over 1,000 articles about designers and ethical fashion from her decidedly global perspective. Her book,Magnifeco: Your Head-to-Toe Guide to Ethical Fashion and Non-toxic Beauty, was published in September.

Kelly Drennan (@ecofashionista) is a social entrepreneur devoted to making change within the fashion industry– known for its negative social and environmental impacts including labour, energy, waste, water, and the use of toxic chemicals. Kelly brings her many years of experience as founding executive director of Fashion Takes Action, a non-profit organization that brings social and environmental awareness to the fashion industry.  

Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab) is a centre for research and innovation at OCAD University. sLab integrates applied research, professional engagement, education and skills development to assist private, public, and not-for-profit organizations attain their goals. sLab trans-disciplinary teams draw on the growing SFI community of researchers and practitioners, design and business professionals, teachers and students, who are passionate about creative economies and sustainable futures.

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University  205 Richmond St. W., 5th floor, Room 510  sLab (Strategic Innovation Lab)

Creating a culture of consent

Image of zine called Create Consent
Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 4:00am

First-year OCAD University students received something new in their Welcome Packets this September: Create Consent, a ‘zine that aims to create consent culture in a way that centres anti-oppression and intersectionality.

Developed at a two-day student workshop facilitated by OCAD U faculty Sheila Sampath and led by OCAD U’s Sexual Violence Prevention & Awareness Working Group, the 30-page ‘zine is a student resource that examines issues of sexual consent in classrooms and studios, on-line and in our communities. It offers information on where to go for support in cases of sexual violence and marks the beginning of a series of initiatives to continue this dialogue.    

The ‘zines are available around campus and at the Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives at 115 McCaul.

At the Student Gallery, the grassroots non-profit organization Bad Subject facilitated a workshop called “Let’s talk consent!” Participants engaged in role-playing activities to develop practical tools to gain and understand consent.

Find out more about sexual violence resources available on- and off-campus.

Read OCAD U President Dr. Sara Diamond’s statement about the university’s policies and resources.

The Ontario Government’s #whowillyouhelp video has received international attention for its stark message on sexual violence. Watch and share!




How Canada can be 100 per cent reliant on renewable energy by 2050

Strategic Foresight student Ryan Church
Friday, June 5, 2015 - 6:00pm

“If countries like Norway can do it, we can too," says OCAD University student Ryan Church. He’s created what he calls a realistic plan to get Canada completely off fossil fuels as his project for the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program.

Ryan used integrated cybernetics to create the plan that includes ideas such as switching to HVDC cables (high-voltage, direct current) for our long-distance power transmission cables and creating a biomimetic energy grid. 

Originally from Maple Ridge, BC, Ryan previously studied science pre-med and art history. He chose the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program because he likes to dabble in business, sciences and the design world, and OCAD U is unique in offering that combination.

Ryan’s renewable energy plan is currently in the hands of the federal and BC Green parties, and Ryan has already received some positive feedback. On top of school, Ryan has his own company, BiomeDesign which combines biomimicry, design and thinking about the future. His company’s latest project is developing a more efficient wind turbine.

You can learn more about Ryan’s project and the exciting work of other innovative Strategic Foresight and Innovation students at their graduate exhibition, xFutures, on now until June 17 at 49 McCaul Street, Toronto.