Photo of Dr Alia Weston
Photo of Dr Alia Weston
Dr Alia Weston
Associate Professor
Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Graduate Studies

Area(s) of Expertise

Critical Management, Creativity and Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation, Informal Economy and African Management


Alia Weston is an Associate Professor of Creative and Business Enterprise. Through her research and practice Alia explores the intersection of business, creativity and social change. She takes a critical theory perspective to question dominant research paradigms and redefine how we understand knowledge; exploring themes such as critical business practice, economic sociology, creative work in resource constraints,community empowerment and innovation, and experiential food methodology.

A thread that runs through Alia's work more broadly is the examination of creative and socially resilient work practices engaged by community groups and marginal workers in precarious socio-economic contexts. Some examples of Alia’s research include Sustainable Systems for MHM Management a community development project in collaboration with Sarah Tranum and the HETC in Zimbabwe (currently funded by a SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant), and Activate Enterprise a business skills development project in collaboration with Mu'unze Social Enterprise, also in Zimbabwe. The Impact Collective social innovation project, funded by a J.W.McConnell Family Foundation RECODE grant, which she co-directs with Zev Farber of the OCAD U Centre for Emerging Artists and Designers (CEAD). A notable collaborative outcome was This Art Works! a 10-part original online series created by Madeline Co, for CBC Arts. The show features OCAD U students and alumni using their art and design skills to effect social change. A further collaboration (with Zev Farber and Alexandra Hong at the CEAD) is the Good w/ Food research project funded by the Women’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, a national initiative headed by Ryerson University. This project employs a food-based methodology, executed through a series of community dinners, to understand the experiences of women creative entrepreneurs. Additional research about the creative sector is Culture Creates Bonds, (a collaboration with Dr Sara Diamond, Dr Marcus Gordon, Rachna Kumar and Zoe Dion-Van Royen) funded by Google Sidewalk Labs. This research critically examined the role that culture plays in building resilience and systems of care within community-building processes which transverse physical and digital spaces. This research was profiled on the front page of the Star Newspaper and on CBC Radio.

Alia co-leads the Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (with Sarah Tranum) and teaches a range of courses that support art and design students in developing socially beneficial business capabilities. Courses Alia currently teaches under the minor include: Intro to Business, Leadership and Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Creative Economies. She additionally teaches Leading Innovation in MDes SFI program. Finally, Alia’s work as an educator and researcher is supported by her practice as a designer-entrepreneur. She uses her design practice, the Alia Weston jewellery brand inspired by her African heritage, as a living research project and utilizes insights to teach OCAD U students about the how-to aspects of running a creative business.


  • 2014. PGCert in Advanced Academic Studies (University of Strathclyde, UK).
  • 2012. PhD in Creativity and Management: 'Creativity in the Informal Economy of Zimbabwe' (Kingston University, UK).
  • 2007. MSc in Management and Business Studies Research (Kingston University, UK).
  • 2006. MA Business Management (Kingston University, UK).
  • 2004. BA (Hons) Silversmithing and Jewellery Design (London Metropolitan University, UK).

Professional Experience

  • 2020 - 2021. Visiting Scholar, Massey College, University of Toronto.
  • 2020 (Jan/June). Acting Associate Dean. Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies. OCAD University. 
  • 2019 - Present. Associate Professor, OCAD University, Toronto.
  • 2014 - 2019. Assistant Professor, OCAD University, Toronto.
  • 2014 (May/June). Visiting Research Fellow, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town.
  • 2012 - 2014. Lecturer, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.
  • 2013 - 2012. Teaching Fellow, Royal Holloway University of London.
  • 2007 - 2013. Part-time/ Visiting Lecturer, Kingston University, London.
  • 2005 - 2009. Project Coordination on Aim Higher Projects, London Metropolitan University.
  • 1998 - Present. Alia Weston Jewellery Design Business.

Awards \ Grants

  • 2020. SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant. (Co-Investigator with S. Tranum). 
  • 2020. Teaching Recognition. Teaching online courses and real-world consulting during Covid-19 pandemic.
  • 2019. Research Award. Winner of the Award for Excellence in Early Stage Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (OCADU).
  • 2019. Teaching Award. Winner of Price Award for Excellence in Teaching (OCADU)
  • 2019. WE-HUB Women’s Entrepreneurship Grant. Government of Canada in collaboration with OCAD U Research Office, CEAD, and Ryerson University. (Co-Investigator with A. Hong, Z. Farber, and Dr R. Luke). 
  • 2018. Research Recognition. Culture Creates Bonds research project profiled on CBC Radio Canada.
  • 2018. Research Recognition. Research profiled on the front cover of the Sunday Star Newspaper in Canada.
  • 2018. Google Sidewalk Labs Grant. (Co-Investigator with Dr S.Diamond).
  • 2017. Teaching and Scholarship Recognition. Scholarship profiled in INSTUDIO Online Magazine (OCADU).
  • 2016. Teaching Recognition. Teaching featured in Globe and Mail editorial on Entrepreneurship (Toronto).
  • 2016. Research Recognition. Research and teaching profiled in the OCADU Annual Research Report.
  • 2014. RECODE Catalyst Grant. Funded by J.W.McConnell Family Foundation. (Primary Investigator with Z.Farber).
  • 2014. Seed Grant. Funded by OCAD University. (Primary Investigator with Mu'unze Social Enterprise).
  • 2014. SSHRC Connections Grant. Funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. (Primary Investigator).
  • 2013. Researcher Links Grant. Funded by British Council. (Primary Investigator).
  • 2013. Emerald African Management Research Fund Award, Highly Commended.
  • 2012. Bridging the Gap Grant. Funded by University of Strathclyde. 
  • 2008. Director of Research Award. Doctoral Program, Kingston University. 
  • 2004. Goldsmiths’ Craftsmanship and Design Award, Winner of Silver Award in Fashion Jewellery.
  • 2004. British Jewellers Association Award, Commendation for Jewellery Design.
  • 2002-04. South Square Trust Scholarship.

Selected Publications

  • Simpson B., Tracy R., and Weston A. (Forthcoming) The Timefulness of Creative Practice: Thinking for an Accelerating World. Perspectives on Process Organization Studies (P-PROS). Vol 10. Eds J.Reinecke, R.Suddaby, A.Langley, H.Tsoukas. Oxford University Press.
  • Weston A. and Farber Z., (2020) Food as an Arts-based Research Method in Business and Management Studies. In Using Arts-based Research Methods: Creative Approaches for Researching Business, Organisation and Humanities. 109-142. Eds J.Ward and H.Shortt. Palgrave Series in Business, Arts & Humanities.
  • Weston A., Imas J.M., Manning J., Donnelly P. and Ngwerume K., (2019) Un(der)employed Youth: From Precariousness to Resilience. Special Issue: Youth, Work and Inequalities. Psicoperspectivas Journal, 18(3): 1-12.
  • Diamond S., Weston A., Dion-Van Royen Z., Kumar R. and Gordon M. (2018) Culture Creates Bonds. Report Commissioned by Google Sidewalk Labs.
  • Weston A. and Imas J.M. (2018). Creativity: Transformation in Adversity. In Palgrave Handbook of Creativity at Work. Eds. N.Wilson and L.Martin. Palgrave.
  • Simpson B. and Tracy R. and Weston A. (2018). Travelling Concepts: Performative Movements in Learning/Playing. Management Learning.
  • Weston A. and Imas J.M. (2018). Resisting Colonization in Business and Management Studies: From Postcolonialism to Decolonization. In SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods (Vol 1), 119-137. Eds. A.Cunliffe, C.Cassell and G.Gandy. Sage.
  • Weston A. (2017). Creating Social Value. In Educating Social Entrepreneurs: From Idea Generation to Business Plan Formulation (Vol 1), 72-76.  Eds. P.Miesing and M.Aggestam. Business Expert Press.
  • Weston A. and Imas J.M. (2017). Towards a Barefoot Community-based Entrepreneuring. In Critical Perspectives on Entrepreneurship: Challenging Dominant Discourses, 73-90. Eds C.Essers, P.Dey, D.Tedmanson and K.Verduyn. Routledge.
  • Tranum S. and Weston A. (2016). Are We Living in a Social Economy or a Precarious One? Globe and Mail/OCAD University: Summer Series Highlighting Design Thinking, Issues and Innovation. globeandmail
  • Imas J.M. and Weston A. (2016). OrgansparkZ Communities of Art/creative Spaces, Imaginations, & Resistance. In Precarious Spaces: The Arts, Social & Organizational Change, 131-151. Eds. K.Kosmala and J.M.Imas. Intellect Books.
  • Weston A. and Clough V. (2016). Digital Publication Documenting (Re)² Reconstructing Resilience. SSHRC Funded Conference and Art Exhibition.
  • Weston A. and Clough V. (2016). Reconstructing Resilience @ OCAD University. RECODE Blog Post. re-code
  • Weston A., Weston M.A and Booth E. (2013). Exploring the Creativity of Informal Workers During Crisis. Animated Short Storyvimeo
  • Imas J.M., Wilson N. and Weston A. (2012). Barefoot Entrepreneurs. Organization, 19(5): 563-585. 
  • Imas J.M. and Weston A. (2012). From Harare to Rio de Janeiro: Kukiya-favela Organisation Narrative of the Excluded. Organization, 19(2): 205-227. 

Professional Affiliations / Boards / Juries

  • 2018 - Present. Member of the Board of Directors at Craft Ontario.