Graduate Programs Info Nights and Online Webinars

Join a Graduate Program Info Night and/or online webinar this November. They are your opportunity to meet instructors, students and alumni from the program to help you learn more about courses, the learning environment and degree outcomes.

Congratulations to our Masters Graduands!

Graduate students at convocation 2017
Thursday, June 15, 2017 - 10:30am

The Office of Graduate Studies congratulates our 2017 Graduands!

We are delighted to celebrate your incredible achievements and the culmination of years of hard work, determination, creation and discoveries. As well, we’d like to thank the friends and family of our students/alumni for their support.

Now that you are representing OCAD U, we hope you keep in touch by joining the Alumni Association. We invite you to visit and participate in future OCAD U events!


The Office of Graduate Studies

OCAD University


This year, the Graduate Studies community at OCAD University is once again fortunate to be able to acknowledge & recognize particular individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in their studies through their research and creative practice.

Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories

Cydney Langill Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories Award for Outstanding Writing

Criticism & Curatorial Practice

Justine Hartlieb-Power Criticism and Curatorial Practice Award for Outstanding Thesis ExhibitionValentynaOniskoCriticism and Curatorial Practice Award for Outstanding Exhibition

Digital Futures

Egill Vidarsson Digital Futures Award for Best Thesis Defence Presentation

Fusun Uzun Digital Futures Futures Award for Best Thesis Document and Award for Best Social Innovation

Jordan Shaw Digital Futures Award for Best Exhibited Thesis Work

Ling Ding Digital Futures Award for Best Thesis Defence Presentation

Marcelo Muller Luft Digital Futures Award for Best Social Innovation

Inclusive Design

Chad Lesch Inclusive Design Award of Excellence

Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design

Eli Schwanz Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design Award for Media Experimentation and Excellent Execution

Iveta Karpathyova Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design Award for Interdisciplinary Excellence

Mariam Magsi Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design Award for Achievement in Local and International Artistic Recognition

Thomas Haskell Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design Award for Rigor in Material Investigation

Strategic Foresight and Innovation

AdriennePacini Strategic Foresight and Innovation Award for Best Major Research Paper

Design: The secret sauce

Well recognized are the challenges to our healthcare system. Not so well recognized is the role of design in finding solutions.

Design sits at the intersection of expertise informed by the evidence base, clinician expertise, and the lived experience of patients, family and caregivers. Design uses techniques to uncover unmet needs, workarounds and adaptations that can be refined and scaled. Design also uses techniques to bring stakeholders’ perspectives as well as particular product and clinical requirements together.

Taking a design approach from project inception to adoption while involving all stakeholders in the process has been successful both in Canada and elsewhere.  The experience of the UK National Health Service, for instance, has shown a design approach to developing a best practice care pathway for breast surgery can reduce the length of stay from four days to one day/one night. The pathway has saved the NHS an estimated $15 million (10 million GBP) to date.

Katie Sellen and Lorna Ross
Katie Sellen and Lorna Ross

Design meets health system challenges wherever there is an element of a designed experience, environment, service, product, communication or tool. These include the need to leverage technology to connect health information and enable digital delivery across organizations and individuals, through design of interfaces and interactive experiences that fit the needs of clinicians as well as support patient experience. They include the need to provide tools for clinicians to support what happens at discharge, which can comprise design of communications, visual tools, checklists, and services.  In addition, the management of chronic diseases requires design of supportive tools and devices, and solutions that address access and inclusiveness for an increasingly diverse population. This is where design using the latest techniques for accessibility can include everything from architecture and interior design to graphics and illustration.

Canada has a growing number of design success stories to share, including, among others:

  • Developing a mobile system of breast screening in Manitoba using interior design, product design and service design methods, by CancerCare Manitoba.
  • Designing materials to support cardiovascular event recovery — a collaboration between Toronto’s Pivot Design and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada.
  • Using design methods and industrial design to develop a personal home-based cervical smear test kit and service by Eve Medical that replaces physician office visits.
  • Collaborating to create a first aid kit for overdose response — a combination of design expertise from OCAD University, community partner knowledge and expertise at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

The design process can be validated through engagement with stakeholders, field testing and evidence-based techniques to ensure the final design has undergone multiple iterations and refinement. Designing with end users, including patients, service delivery organizations and frontline healthcare providers, helps ensure that solutions are designed for feasible implementation and effective practice. In this way, design methods and expertise are the secret sauce — combining key ingredients of stakeholder focus, inclusive processes, evidence, and implementation.

OCAD U is the largest art and design university in Canada with focused design engagement in the health sector. Through its recently launched Design for Health Master’s degree program, students develop the design competencies required to tackle the complex issues faced by the Canadian healthcare system and the communication skills needed to work on multidisciplinary teams.

Design provides a different way to view a problem, propose and explore alternatives, and prototype solutions. Meeting the needs of a changing and emerging societal, structural and technological context of health requires design and design expertise.  

Design methods and approaches are poised to make a positive impact on challenges and opportunities in the health sector.

This article is abstracted from a larger manuscript by Dr. Kate Sellen, who is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Design at OCAD U. She leads the Healthcare and Resilient Experience Research Group and is director of the Design for Health Master’s Program. Her PhD is in Human Factors in Industrial Engineering (University of Toronto).


First published in Hospital News in February 2017

By Dr. Kate Sellen, Health Design Studio, OCAD U
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Designing for health

Alison Mulvale

OCAD U has launched a brand new grad program – Design for Health. We spoke with one of the first students in the program, Alison Mulvale.


You did your undergrad at OCAD University in Environmental Design and are currently a research coordinator at McMaster University. What’s the focus of your work there?

At McMaster, I use a service-improvement methodology called experience-based co-design to improve the transitions from child and youth mental-health services to adult ones. In collaboration with the developer WeUsThem, we designed and are piloting a cellphone and corresponding web applications called MyExperience that are being used to capture youth, family member and service providers’ experiences with service transitions. We are currently gearing up to hold feedback groups and a co-design event to have these stakeholder  groups collaboratively decide on design rules for enhancing transitions and care coordination.


What attracted you to OCAD U’s MDes in Design for Health program?

I saw the program as both the perfect opportunity to continue to merge my interests in design and health professionally, and because core classes for each term allow students to work in an interdisciplinary fashion. The program’s first term focuses on health and the individual, the second on health and the built environment and the third on health systems design. Having already touched on a few of these design scales both academically and professionally, I was excited by the prospect of not being confined to a specific scale, as well as the opportunity to work with health designers whose backgrounds cross all three.

Why do you think health design is such a growing and important field today?

Health design is becoming increasingly valued because the innovative potential of design has been gaining recognition within business and service sectors. Health care and promotion are such an integral part of people’s day-to-day lives, and we are constantly looking to do better in areas of weakness. While health design initially gained traction in business-oriented private health-care facilities, I think it’s also particularly attractive to public health-care systems that are looking to improve health outcomes, patient safety and overall experience, while maximizing the value for public dollars designated for health care and health promotion.



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