Sarah Tranum Bio Photo
Sarah Tranum Bio Photo
Sarah Tranum
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Design, Graduate Studies

Area(s) of Expertise

Strategic Design, Social Innovation Design, Social Entrepreneurship


Sarah Tranum is a social innovation designer and strategist. Sarah founded TrickleUp Design, a design firm pushing the boundaries of design and business to create transformative products and services that are socially, environmentally, culturally, and financially sustainable. Her creative work and research is focused on ethical product development as well as systems design and research for socially innovative solutions in emerging markets. Most recently, Sarah has led a Canadian-government funded research project based in India developing a product that provides clean water and can be manufactured locally. She is also engaged in research on systems based solutions to menstrual health management in Sub-Saharan Africa and is working on a sustainably designed and locally produced consumer product targeting the North American market. 

Sarah is an Assistant Professor, Social Innovation Design, in the Faculty of Design. Since 2009, Sarah has created and taught several courses across the Faculty of Design. She developed and has led the Design Abroad: India course since its inception in 2013. Sarah created a popular online course, called Creative Practice: Preparing for a Changing World and co-authored the Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation Minor. Most recently, she developed the Social Innovation Design Pathway of courses, which launched last fall. These courses focus on guiding undergraduate students as they imagine and develop innovative and sustainable models for using design as a tool for social change and intentionally engaging communities in the participatory design process. Currently, Sarah is implementing the new Social Innovation Design Abroad Certificate course set to launch in 2019 in Costa Rica, and she is leading the development of a new interdisciplinary business program at OCAD University.

Sarah received a Master of Design in Designed Objects degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her undergraduate degree in Policy Analysis and Management from Cornell University. She worked as a microfinance practitioner in the U.S. and Canada and completed the Institute without Boundaries program in Interdisciplinary Design Strategy.

Research Interests:

Social innovation design; participatory design; systems design; love economy/humane capitalism; small batch production; women’s empowerment; microfinance; access to clean, affordable water in India; access to reproductive and menstrual health education and supplies in Sub-Saharan Africa