SSHRC Imagining Canada's Future: Dialogic Design Co-Lab

"In the face of intensified urbanization worldwide, what do we see as the highest impact social and human challenges for Southern Ontario, now through 2030?"

Southern Ontario is witnessing increasing urbanization, and with it a host of changes, challenges and opportunities.  For example, younger people are known as early adopters of new technologies, yet older people are experiencing technologies and their consequences in surprising ways. By 2050, we expect a third of Canadians to be older than 65.  What kinds of services, societies, and care do we envision to support our communities in the face of these changes?  

In an unprecedented study, Canada's research council for social science and humanities, SSHRC, has commissioned six regional panels to understand and imagine possible futures for the country in a global context. Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab) at OCADUniversity is leading University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), Ryerson, Windsor and York universities and our combined intellectual communities.

sLab's participatory action research engages a diverse panel of academics, professionals, and students for a Co-laboratory workshop organized and facilitated according to principles of the Structured Dialogic Design methodology.  Dialogic Design is a multi-technique methodology based on human and computer-facilitated structuring of inquiry for a complex social or civic concern. Democratic by design, SDD produces strong consensus while avoiding cognitive biases, by adopting a series of language structures that conserve participant autonomy, authenticity, and shared commitment while mitigating group cognitive bias, power bias, and content complexity. 

The OCAD U-led project centred on an Expert Panel structured as a Dialogic Design (DD) Co-Laboratory to gather primary data, together with an Online Survey, a Public Workshop, and documentation of these activities on the Web. 

Focusing on urbanization as a key regional and global driver of change, the Expert panel was asked:

In the face of increasing urbanization worldwide, what future challenges
do we anticipate for Southern Ontario, now through 2030?

91 challenges were identified by the Expert Panel. On the Top Ten list are those challenges that are most influential on the other challenges, and highly related to the triggering question:

  1. Advancing a diverse and inclusive society
  2. Enabling equitable access to ICT
  3. Governing ourselves responsively
  4. Designing sustainable cities
  5. Overcoming fear of change
  6. Including indigenous rights in planning
  7. Transitioning to a digital economy
  8. Upgrading transportation systems
  9. Stewarding regional ecosystems
  10. Supporting our aging population

A follow up survey, and a public Design with Dialogue session correlated and expanded on the Expert Panel workshop findings.

In naming and assessing the influence of these future challenges, the expert panel considered both increasing urbanization globally and in Southern Ontario. Though urbanization trends will be most apparent in Canada’s large cities, all cities and communities will be affected by the transitions represented by the challenges.

For more information, please visit


This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

A photograph of Southern Ontario at night taken from the International Space Station
Monday, October 23, 2017 - 10:15am
Lab Member: 
Greg Van alstyne
Peter Jones
Suzanne Stein

Art of Nature 2008 Auction & Sale

Art of Nature 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008 - 5:00am

Art of Nature 2008 is a fundraising sale of Canadian art inspired by the natural world – or by the degradation of the natural world. Some of the contributing artists are established and some are emerging. The work they donate ranges from the iconic to the ironic. Last year, Art of Nature contributed over $100,000 to Canadian environmental organizations, a splendid result for a first-time event.

The sale includes work by alumni Linda Montgomery, Joanne Todd, Rita Vindedzis, George Boyer, Norah Borden, Reinhard Reitzenstein, Dominik Modlinski, Brynley Longman and Mel Delija. For a full list of contributors or to bid, visit the website.

Venue & Address: 
Direct Energy Centre Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ontario

OCAD participates in Earth Hour 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008 - 12:00am to 1:00am

OCAD will power down on Saturday, March 29, 2008, for one hour starting at 8 pm, as part of Earth Hour 2008.

Earth Hour originated as an event in Sydney, Australia last year, as businesses and households turned off their lights for one hour to send a powerful national and global message that it’s possible to take action on global warming.

This year Earth Hour has become a global opportunity to take a stand on the greatest threat our planet has ever faced, as millions of people unit to turn the tide on global warming. OCAD is proud to participate, and will do so by turning off all lights and powering down all non-essential equipment in order to make the most impact towards reducing energy consumption.

Earth Hour is an event everyone can participate in—at home, at work, at school—anywhere. Simply turn out the lights on Saturday, March 29, for an hour, at 8 pm. To learn more about how you can live a more sustainable lifestyle, or sign up for the challenge, visit the Earth Hour website.

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


Poster with soup can
Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - 12:00am to 3:00am

Please join us for our first CRITICAL SOUP, on Tuesday Feb 23, from 7 pm to 10 pm, at That Place at the Second Floor, OCAD U. 

CRITICAL SOUP (CS) is a student-run healthy, delicious and free dinner option and an interdisciplinary art initiative that opens a space for dialogue about the devastating impacts of Canadian extractive companies in communities and territories of periphery nations. 

CS welcomes OCAD U students, alumni, staff, faculty and peers to share food and be engaged in building a community that looks critically and acts responsibly in relation to the current politics of food. 

On our first event, members of Mining Injustice Solidarity Network will be sharing their experience and facilitating critical dialogues about social and environmental Justice. 


We want to send huge thanks to all the project supporters and collaborators.

CRITICAL SOUP was made possible with the collaboration the Art and Social Change Student Committee, the Indigenous Student Association and the generous support of Indigenous Visual Culture Office, Office of Diversity, Equity and Sustainability Initiatives, Faculty of Art, Art and Social Change Program, and OCAD U Student Union.


Venue & Address: 
That Place at the Second Floor, OCAD U
Poster with soup can

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

Drumi in the running for Dyson Award

Image of three Drumi washing machines
Thursday, July 16, 2015 - 4:00am

Imagination Catalyst entrepreneur Yi Jiang (BDes, Industrial Design, 2013) is once again in the spotlight for his foot-powered washing machine, the Drumi. Jiang’s environmentally-friendly invention has been highlighted as one of the best entrants in the prestigious James Dyson Award. The assignment: design something that solves a problem.

The Drumi is a small, lightweight washing machine that uses no electricity and only ten litres of water per load. It’s portable, takes up very little space in cramped quarters and has a much smaller carbon footprint than a conventional electric washing machine. It is designed for countries where water is scarce, but is also convenient for city dwellers, cottagers and campers.

The James Dyson Award is an international design award that celebrates and inspires the next generation of design engineers. The award is open to current and recent product design, industrial design or engineering students. It’s run by the James Dyson Foundation, James Dyson’s charitable trust, as part of its mission to get young people excited about design engineering.

Designers from 20 countries are participating. The international winner will receive $45,000, with $7,500 going to the inventor’s university. The prize for international runners up is $7,500, while national winners will receive $3,500. All the winners will be announced in fall 2015. 

OCAD U and Legend Power lead the way with innovative energy retrofit

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 5:00am

Legend Power Systems Inc. is pleased to announce that its energy saving product, the Harmonizer, has helped OCAD University (OCAD U) lower the greenhouse emissions of their Toronto campus while saving over $20,000 per year, with a payback period of 2.6 years. The Harmonizer, a device which saves energy by regulating incoming voltage levels, has reduced the university's greenhouse gas emissions by 31 metric tons, saving 171,000 kWh per year.

Founded in 1876, OCAD U is one of the first universities in Canada to save using the Harmonizer. The Harmonizer is an ideal fit for the "university of the imagination," being an institution that teaches its students that collaboration and integration of emerging technologies is of the utmost importance.

"OCAD U has set a strategic priority of developing and implementing an institution-wide sustainability plan," says Christine Wallace, Manager, Building Projects, Facilities, Planning & Management, OCAD University. "The Harmonizer will help us advance this vision and be a leader in emissions reduction for the post-secondary building sector."  

After seeing such positive results with OCAD U, Legend is excited to assist other collegiate institutions with their energy efficiency strategies. The environmental and monetary savings afforded by the Harmonizer provide the opportunity for universities and colleges to allocate funds towards future educational initiatives.

"Legend's Harmonizer is proving to be a great fit in the M.U.S.H. sector; we are fortunate to have forward thinking clients such as OCAD U utilizing Legend solutions" says Randy Buchamer, Legend President & CEO. 

With the success achieved with OCAD U, there is a large growth opportunity for Legend to continue to expand and develop partnerships with other educational facilities across North America.

About OCAD University
OCAD University ( is Canada's "university of imagination." The university, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines.

About Legend Power Systems Inc.
Legend Power Systems Inc. ( is a leading electrical energy conservation company that manufactures and markets a patented device to help commercial and industrial customers achieve significant energy savings through voltage optimization. Legend Power's Electrical Harmonizer helps companies reduce their electricity bills, maintenance costs, and increases the life of electrical equipment, while contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.  

SOURCE Legend Power Systems Inc.


Ecology.Design.Synergy speaker series continues with Manfred Brausem and Martin Liefhebber

Thursday, November 18, 2010 - 5:00am

Green Architecture & New Ideas from Germany & Canada presented by Goethe-Institut Toronto and OCADU

(Toronto — November 18, 2010) The Faculty of Design at OCAD University (OCADU) in partnership with Goethe-Institut Toronto presents the second talk in a speaker series as part of Ecology.Design.Synergy: Green Architecture & New Ideas from Germany & Canada. Strategic Construction: The Architect as Agent for Change brings together German architect Manfred Brausem in conversation with Canadian architect Martin Liefhebber for a free event on Friday, November 26 at 6 p.m. in OCADU’s Auditorium.

The series launched in October with Provocative Visioning: The Artist/Designer as Eco-Provocateur, showcasing the remarkable creative explorations of Berlin-based Friedrich von Borries and Canadian Philip Beesley.

Curated by OCADU Faculty of Design Acting Dean Doreen Balabanoff in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Toronto, this series explores a range of architectural and design practices that are transforming our understanding of ‘sustainability’ within the built environment. This evening showcases two pioneers in passive solar design: Manfred Brausem is embraced as a ‘guiding spirit’ by innovative architectural firms in the US; Martin Liefhebber’s vision extends beyond creating healthy homes to building healthy communities.

About the Speakers:
Manfred Brausem is an accomplished Passive House architect based in Cologne. He has been a pioneer of the Passive House movement since its introduction in Germany 15 years ago. He has realized over 100 passive solar projects, and is one of the most experienced professionals worldwide in the field. The Passive House Standard is hugely successful in Europe. Manfred’s work was instrumental in popularizing it across Europe. In 2015 this energy standard, with an amazing 90 percent reduction in energy use, will become part of the building code in Germany and is being promoted by the European Union for adoption by their member states as part of their commitment to curb climate change.

Martin Liefhebber is one of Canada’s original “bioneers” — using unorthodox materials including straw bale in urban settings and used tires in “earthships” — gaining recognition in 1991 for the award-winning off-grid “Healthy Home”, commissioned by the Canadian Mortgage & Housing Association. Throughout his career, and as principle in his firm (which has grown from Liefhebber Architects to Breathe Architects), Liefhebber has demonstrated his belief that “architecture is something that actually fixes the environment.” This approach is evident in both the Clarkson house, designed for exceptional indoor air quality, and the “MC2” house designed to address affordability, ageing and ambient resource use, and absorbing and circulating sunlight, air and water in a hybrid power system. Liefhebber teaches in OCAD University’s Environmental Design program.

Additional Ecology.Design.Synergy speaker events will include:

Visionary Regeneration: The Historic Fabric Refashioned
Speakers & Date TBA

Fine Tuning: The Building as Ecosystem
Speakers & Date TBA

About the Goethe-Institut Toronto
The Goethe-Institut Toronto ( presents important positions, contemporary ideas and arts practices from Germany and Europe to Canadians. Our current focus themes are Culture & Economy, City & Climate, and German film & media art. We organise residencies together with our Canadian partners, offer international liaison work and consulting as well as promote European cultural understanding, e.g. through our cooperation with other European cultural institutes across Canada.

About OCAD University (OCADU)
OCAD University ( is Canada’s “University of the Imagination.” The University, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

- 30 -

For more information contact:

Jutta Brendemühl, Program Coordinator, Goethe-Institut Toronto
416.593.5257 Ext. 205

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416.977.6000 Ext. 327 (mobile Ext. 1327)

Art Creates Change: The Kym Pruesse Speaker Series: Kenneth J. Foster

Art Creates Change: The Kym Pruesse Speaker Series: Kenneth J. Foster
Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 11:00pm

Resilience Thinking: What the Arts Can Learn from Environmentalism

The Faculty of Art at OCAD University is very pleased to welcome Kenneth Foster, Associate Professor of Practice and Director of the Arts Leadership Graduate Certificate program in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, as our second speaker in our Art Creates Change speaker series.

In the midst of a rapidly changing and challenging environment, artists and arts organizations find themselves in a much different world than they anticipated, one in which the more generally accepted ways of thinking and acting are no longer providing the desired solutions. With more than thirty years of innovative leadership work in a variety of arts organizations, Kenneth Foster, newly appointed director of Arts Leadership at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, examines the contours of what is actually happening and suggests that an ecological view of the arts can illuminate innovative strategies to strengthen artistic vibrancy and create a robust environment within which the arts can thrive.

A nationally recognized arts leader with a distinguished career of more than thirty years, Prof. Foster has held Executive level positions at multiple arts organizations from community based nonprofit arts organizations to major University arts centers. Prior to coming to USC in 2013, he served for ten years as Executive Director of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), a multidisciplinary contemporary arts center in San Francisco. Under his leadership, YBCA achieved international recognition for its innovative approach to connecting art, artists and communities. He has served on several national arts Boards, and is a founding member of the African Contemporary Arts Consortium. He has traveled extensively, examining arts organizational practices throughout the world. His book, Presenting the Performing Arts; From Theory to Practice (2006) was the first to systematically define the discipline of performing arts presenting. He has conducted workshops and written extensively on contemporary issues and the arts.

About Kym Pruesse
“Kym [Pruesse] was complex, complicated and often challenged those around her to think profoundly and creatively.” — The Globe and Mail, December 8, 2010

An artist, educator, writer and theorist, Kym Pruesse is celebrated as an expert in popular culture, art and design history, visual activism, art criticism and curatorial practice. A part of the OCAD U community since 1994, Kym taught courses in media and cultural studies, contemporary theory, women in art, art criticism, popular culture and studio. She believed in a cross-disciplinary perspective and taught in both the Faculty of Art and the Faculty of Liberal Studies at OCAD U. She passed away suddenly in June, 2009. The Art Creates Change series commemorates Kym’s work at OCAD U, as well as her contribution to the Toronto art community.

The Kym Pruesse Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a student in excellent standing who shows a demonstrated interest in curatorial practice, art and design activism and/or popular culture. If you would like to make a donation in support of the scholarship, please contact Development & Alumni Relations at 416-977-6000 Ext. 481.




Venue & Address: 
Auditorium 100 McCaul St. Toronto, Ontario