Five reasons a Master's in Strategic Foresight and Innovation is the new MBA

Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation

1. MBAs aren’t what they used to be

According to an article in the Globe and Mail, the number of students taking GMAT tests is going way down. There was a 23 per cent drop from 2010 to 2013. 

The Globe story quoted Ilian Mihov, dean of the highly ranked European business school INSEAD in France: “Mihov said many students have decided an MBA is only worth the escalating cost at a top-ranked university where job prospects are better. Others are turning to different types of business training as an alternative.”

“Many people have realized that if you cannot do an MBA at a top school, then it’s not clear that you have to do an MBA,” said Mihov. “The return on your investment in terms of time and money may not be worth it.”

2. If you want to get ahead you need to be innovative – and businesses are realizing this 

PwC Canada has been recruiting from the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program.  James Davidson, senior manager of Campus Talent Acquisition, says, “Digital technologies are transforming the way we do business. It’s clear that forming a digital strategy will no longer be enough to succeed, so companies will need to develop a business strategy that fits this new digital age.

“At PwC Canada, we help our clients navigate and create sustainable value for their digital future. To achieve this, we are looking at programs such as OCAD U’s Strategic Foresight and Innovation, for people who understand strategy, sustainability and innovation from a different perspective and who are experienced in research, planning and development.

“We need management consultants who are innovative thinkers, with a design-first mindset, that have evolved their skills in the digital space. We are looking for individuals who are accustomed to working without a blueprint, and whose broad industry experience is complemented by content and strategy development, diversity of thinking, as well as strong project management and people skills.

“OCAD U’s Strategic Foresight Innovation program can deliver individuals who have a critical mix of skills and whose contributions, insights and forward thinking could create extraordinary value for any organization.”

3. Strategic Foresight and Innovation is the only program in the world that combines design thinking, strategy, foresight and innovation

Design thinking is a way of solving complex problems like a designer – it’s different than usual business thinking because it spends much more time researching problems. Designers look at the issue of larger systems and test new models to make better-informed conclusions. Design thinking takes more work but it hits the mark a lot better. It also puts user-experience first – satisfying human needs and interests.

Studying foresight adds another level. It’s about looking for signals of change on the horizon that can have implications for the future. This thinking helps to “future-proof” an organization or company so it isn’t blind-sided.

4. The program isn’t as intensively-focused as an MBA on business, but it doesn’t ignore it 

The Strategic Foresight and Innovation program focuses on creating innovative business models and financial sustainability for new products, services or organizations. The business world thrives on innovation and this program teaches better strategic thinking. At this year’s Hult Prize semi-finals, teams from the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program competed against mostly MBA teams from the best universities around the world, including Harvard.  

Who had the best business models? Judges told the Strategic Foresight and Innovation teams their models were better than the MBA teams.

5. Wider perspectives and diversity equal more innovative ideas

MBA programs often attract students with business backgrounds, but the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program has a much broader and diverse range of students. This program attracts lawyers, business people, scientists, architects, musicians, writers and public-sector employees, to name just a few.

Admissions Segment: 

SFI Students at the Relating Systems Thinking and Design Symposium 7 (RSD7) Turin, Italy

SFI students Ariana Lutterman and Tara Campbell with their poster Designing Designers: A critical look at design education
SFI student Adam Oliveira presenting his poster Interstellar: “To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before” which he prepared with
SFI students Nadia Abuseif, Nicole Norris, and Jen Wilson-Lee presenting their poster Flourishing Cybernetics: A Biomimetics Pos
Thursday, November 22, 2018

By Ariana Lutterman and Tara Campbell

The Relating Systems Thinking and Design Symposium (RSD) is an annual international gathering of academics, researchers, and practitioners engaged in systemic design, a discipline that brings together systems thinking and systems-oriented design. This year, the seventh RSD took place in Turin, Italy from October 24-26th to explore the theme of “Challenging Complexity by Systemic Design Towards Sustainability”.

RSD is convened by the Systemic Design Association, co-founded by Dr. Peter Jones, an associate professor in the Faculty of Design here at OCAD, where he teaches in two graduate programs: Strategic Foresight and Innovation, and Design for Health. Both of these programs have courses in systemic design. As part of these courses, students create maps that visually illustrate complex topics, unpacking relationships, histories, and layers of a system in a way that can be more easily understood and digested. The symposium included a track for these visual maps specifically, and several OCAD student groups submitted and had their maps accepted to be presented in the RSD7 gallery.

The conference itself began with a day of workshops covering topics ranging from the idea of place in systemic design to connected products and the circular economy. The following days were broken down into parallel presentation sessions for participants to choose from based on different themes within systemic design. These were punctuated by keynote presentations from systems thinkers whose backgrounds spanned public policy, ecology, economics, farming, and architecture - a representation of the diverse voices needed across disciplines to truly think systemically. A number of OCAD faculty, Peter Jones, Greg Van Alstyne, and Michele Mastroeni, presented their work relating to systemic design. Students and alumni from Strategic Foresight and Innovation and Design for Health also presented work, including the aforementioned posters in the Visualization of Complex Systems exhibit, as well as paper presentations.

After the conference, participants were given the opportunity to attend a “de-conference” in the nearby alpine village of Ostana. Here, RSD members who founded the MonViso Institute brought attendees to visit their mountain laboratory, a community they are constructing using systemic design principles. Participants visited the buildings being constructed through net-positive, sustainable, cradle-to-cradle construction and shared meals sourced from local, seasonal ingredients produced with an emphasis on permaculture.

Overall, OCAD had a large presence at this year’s symposium, a tradition that will hopefully be continued at RSD8 next year in Chicago.

Hult Prize Regional Semi-Finalists Team Fleet Competes at York University

OCAD U's Team Fleet at York University
OCAD U's Team Fleet at York University
OCAD U's Team Fleet at York University
OCAD U's Team Fleet at York University
OCAD U's Team Fleet at York University
Friday, March 9, 2018 - 10:30am

The Hult Prize Challenge is a platform that brings together students from over 100 different countries to solve some of the greatest challenges our world is facing at a global scale. This year’s challenge was “harnessing the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people by 2025”. OCAD University’s very own Team Fleet made up of Lucy Gao, Rachna Kumar & Juan Carlos Sandoval-all of which are currently pursuing a Master of Design in Strategic Foresight & Innovation-chose to pursue the challenge at York University located in our very own Toronto. After being fast-tracked to the regional semi-final round, they joined another 42 teams from around the world. Competing over an intense 2-day duration, they came out with an unforgettable experience and although they will not be moving forward to continue to compete for the 1 Million USD award, they have come out with a larger network all of which are aspiring to be future change makers.

Congratulations Team Fleet!

SFI Student Kyoko Ariyoshi guest lecture at Florida Atlantic University

Kyoko Arioyoshi guest lecture at Florida Atlantic University
Kyoko Arioyoshi guest lecture at Florida Atlantic University
Kyoko Arioyoshi and MFA students at Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University
Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 2:00pm

Kyoko Ariyoshi from SFI was invited to do a presentation at Florida Atlantic University in Florida, in a Master of Fine Arts class.

Kyoko is an international student from Tokyo with a background in art, translation, marketing, and business. She's also the founder of implish, a total culture translation service. Her aspiration is to create a human-centric business that makes both outer (financial) and inner wealth (self-actualization). She designs her business utilizing art thinking which was the focus of the presentation titled, More of Art Thinking.

Art school graduates undeservedly have the highest unemployment rate globally yet they offer the most colourful set of skills. She spoke about what art thinking is, its benefits, and how art and business together help students' career going forward. The presentation was received as "very encouraging, insightful, and practical" and created a very constructive discussion about audience's future careers.


Dr. Wendy Schultz at OCAD University: Methods Workshop

Strategic Foresight and Innovation
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 5:00pm to 8:00pm

Based in Oxford, England, Dr. Schultz is an academically trained futurist with over thirty years of global foresight practice. She has designed and facilitated futures research projects for NGOs, government agencies, and businesses. She has designed foresight training for Policy Horizons Canada, Forum for the Future, Argentina’s Ministry of Science and Technology and The Futures Company.

Actively involved with the Association of Professional Futurists, the World Future Society and the World Futures Studies Federation, Dr. Schultz’s specialties are futures research methods, participatory workshop design, and online software platforms for futures research, particularly crowdsourcing scanning and images of the future.

Dr. Wendy Schultz can be found online at

Venue & Address: 
OCAD UNIVSERSITY Rm. 301 205 Richmond St. West

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.

SFI Alumni Network Launch

OCAD U SFI Alumni Network
Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 9:30am to 5:00pm

We’re excited to invite you to the first-ever alumni network event!

This is an opportunity for our talented, diverse and amazing SFI community members to:

  • Promote work and skills: MRPs, research and ongoing projects welcome -- tell us what you’re up to and where SFI has taken your career

  • Learn from one another’s expertise and experiences: Run a workshop or info session to teach a skill or method relevant to our field

  • Co-create and co-define the purpose of the network: Help inform the network’s purpose and vision, and tell us how this community will best serve your needs today and in the future

  • Meet other people in the community: Professional networking opportunities, and an optional after-party to talk shop or make new connections.

Why now?

In the last few months many of you responded to a survey about what is important to you! Your feedback combined with many informal conversations with current students and grads and many meetings of the network organizing team is what led to the creation of this event.

Our goal is for this to be the launchpad for more consistently valuable and uniquely “SFI” events - of which this will be the first!

Come for the interesting points of view, connection with other SFIers, and one more “presentation day." Stay to contribute your efforts and ideas to the "SFI-ing" of the future of the alumni network.


Saturday, November 4th, 2017


RCA 510 and 514


10am to 5pm (doors open at 9:30am), followed by an optional after-party at a local bar (venue TBC)



Tickets available through Eventbrite:

A Final Thought For You to Build On:

In February of this year, the first email mentioning the intention of building this version of the alumni network was sent. It contained this sentiment:

  • What better tool to organize for impact, perhaps a new kind of impact, in the face of these now pressing global changes than through this network? We’re trained in the tools for change and innovation, we’re multidisciplinary and future-oriented with growing tolerances for ambiguity, and we’re practicing across a diverse representation of competencies and verticals. Not to mention there's a pretty solid percentage of us that like each other. ;)

The intention of the event resonates with this idea and we're looking forward to cultivating it with you further on the 4th!


Venue & Address: 
OCAD University, RHA 510 and 514, 205 Richmond Street West, Toronto

*Grad Studies Info Night @ 205 Richmond

Grad Studies Info Night @ 205 Richmond
Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 11:00pm

Programs: Art, Design & New Media Histories / Digital Futures / Interdisciplinary Masters

November 5:
- Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Histories (MA)
- Digital Futures (MDes, MFA, MA and Graduate Diploma)
- Interdisciplinary Master's in Art, Media and Design (MDes, MFA, MA)

Are you willing to embrace a creative future? Then you're ready to consider Graduate Studies at OCAD University — the university of the imagination, in the heart of Canada’s most culturally vibrant city.
We give ideas a place and a space. Our ability to offer graduate students a unique experience is solidly rooted in our 137-year history of delivering uncompromising art and design education. Grounded in practice, theory, research and professionalism, with an eye on experimentation and change, we deliver advanced experiential learning. Our graduate students enjoy unrivalled opportunities to practice with expert faculty, in studios, labs and through exceptional internships.

At OCAD U, we attract curious and creative students who expect something more from their education and are willing to challenge themselves to achieve it. Are you ready to explore, enrich and expand your horizons?
Join us at our Information Nights to learn more about Graduate Studies at OCAD U!

WATCH (video):

Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Histories (MA):

Digital Futures (MDes, MFA, MA and Graduate Diploma):

Interdisciplinary Master's in Art, Media and Design (MDes, MFA, MA):

Strategic Foresight and Innovation (MDes):

More OCAD University Graduate Studies Info Nights:

Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Histories (MA)
Tuesday, November 5, 6 to 8 p.m.
Wednesday, November 27,6 to 8 p.m.

Criticism & Curatorial Practice (MFA)
Monday, November 4, 6 to 8 p.m.
Thursday, November 28, 6 to 8 p.m.

Digital Futures (MDes, MFA, MA and Graduate Diploma)
Tuesday, November 5,6 to 8 p.m.
Thursday, November 28, 6 to 8 p.m.

Inclusive Design (MDes)
Monday, November 4, 6 to 8 p.m.
Wednesday, November 27, 6 to 8 p.m.

Interdisciplinary Master's in Art, Media and Design (MDes, MFA, MA)
Tuesday, November 5, 6 to 8 p.m.
Thursday, November 28, 6 to 8 p.m.

Strategic Foresight and Innovation (MDes)
Monday, November 4, 6 to 8 p.m.
Wednesday, November 27, 6 to 8 p.m.

All Graduate Studies Information Nights are held at OCAD University, 205 Richmond Street West.

If you are unable to attend the information sessions in person, please email us with any questions about our graduate programs

Twitter Ask Me Anything:
December 4, 2013 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. sessions
Follow @OCADUgrad

* The Application Deadline for all programs is Monday, January 13, 2014 *

Graduate Studies at OCAD University
205 Richmond Street West
Toronto, Ontario

For more information, contact:
Office of Graduate Studies
416-977-6000 Ext. 423 or


416 977 6000 x 423


Venue & Address: 
5th Floor 205 Richmond St. Toronto, Ontario