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

Province launches strategy to connect people with disabilities to employers

Monday, June 5, 2017

Ontario is launching a new strategy to connect more people with disabilities to rewarding jobs and more employers to new talent to help grow their businesses.

Access Talent: Ontario's Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities will help increase employment for people with disabilities and connect businesses to talent by:

  • Supporting the development and employment goals of students and young people, including the launch of a new pilot through the Ontario Disability Support Program to provide individualized and coordinated services and supports.
  • Engaging employers as partners and champions through an online platform that will connect businesses, people with disabilities, and the public to share advice and lessons learned.
  • Streamlining employment and training services to better meet the needs of job seekers and employers through the introduction of a new Supported Employment program at Employment Ontario.
  • Establishing the government as an accessibility leader by raising awareness and changing attitudes through public education. 
  • Increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities and connecting businesses to new talent are part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

The government is partnering with OCAD University's Inclusive Design Research Centre to deliver the BIG IDeA, a collaborative pilot program that celebrates successes and promotes innovations in accessibility. As part of the program, major tech companies—including IBM, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple—are helping to break down accessibility barriers in machine learning models.


Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts - Nominations Open

Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts
Monday, November 17, 2008 - 5:00am to Monday, December 1, 2008 - 5:00am

Who inspires you?
Artists have a profound impact on Ontario’s economy and quality of life. Our artists provide insight into who we are, stimulate our imaginations and challenge us to see the world in new ways.

The Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts recognizes both an individual artist and an arts organization whose work has made an outstanding contribution to arts and culture in Ontario.

Anyone can nominate
You don’t have to belong to an arts organization or be active in the arts community to nominate. Any Ontario resident can apply. Last year’s Individual Artist award winner, visual artist Ron Noganosh, was nominated by his neighbour.

Award categories
There are two award categories:

Individual Artist - $50,000
The winner of the Individual Artist Award will receive $35,000 and will select a new or emerging artist to receive a prize of $15,000.

Arts Organization - $50,000

Who can I nominate?

Individual Artist
The Individual Artist award recognizes an individual artist (including the head of an arts organization).

You can nominate an Ontario resident in a professional arts practice, including (but not limited to):
* Media arts
* Writing
* Theatre
* Dance
* Music
* Opera
* Visual arts
* Book and magazine publishing
* Digital media
* Film
* Television
* Sound recording
* Community arts
* Crafts

*Previous award finalists are eligible.

Arts Organization
The Arts Organization Award recognizes an Ontario-based not-for-profit professional arts organization or commercial organization.

You can nominate an arts organization in the following professional arts practices, including (but not limited to):
* Media arts
* Writing
* Theatre
* Dance
* Music
* Opera
* Visual arts
* Book and magazine publishing
* Digital media
* Film
* Television
* Sound recording
* Community arts
* Crafts

*Previous award finalists are eligible.

Submitting a nomination
Any Ontario resident can submit a nomination. If you are inspired by an artist or arts organization, nominate them for a Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) administers the award submissions and evaluation process on behalf of the Government of Ontario. Click here to link to the nomination forms and guidelines that will help lead you through the process.

The OAC will accept one nomination per nominator.

For more information, contact the Ontario Arts Council Awards Office at:
(416) 961-1660 ext. 6666
1 (800) 387-0058 ext. 6666

Deadline for nominations is Monday, December 1, 2008.

The Ontario Arts Council will not accept nominations received after the deadline date.

Please note:
- Nominations must be postmarked by Canada Post or a courier company no later than December 1, 2008.
- Nominations may be hand-delivered to the office of the Ontario Arts Council on the 5th floor of 151 Bloor Street West, Toronto until 5 p.m. on December 1. Building security will accept your application until 8 p.m.
- All applications will be opened after the deadline date.
- Incomplete nominations are ineligible and will be returned to you by mail at after the deadline date.

Bachelor of Education Overview

Monday, September 15, 2008 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Cathy Lofgreen, External Relations Officer, Ontario College of Teachers, will provide an overview of teaching in Ontario schools. Each university's bachelor of education program can be quite unique. Cathy will go over the varied and sometimes confusing terminology (e.g., primary, elementary, intermediate, teachable, second teachable, and so on) and she will provide general information (e.g., where are the teacher education programs?) about teaching in the province of Ontario.

Venue & Address: 
Room 284 100 McCaul St., Toronto, Ontario

Spotlight on Ontario Artist: George A. Walker

Saturday, June 7, 2008 - 5:00pm to 9:00pm

The Porquipines Quill is pleased to invite you to engage and learn more about the arcane craft of wood engraving with artist and OCAD printmaking instructor, George A. Walker. There will be an open studio, demonstration and artist's print sales. Book signing for Images from the Neocerebellum: The Wood Engravings of George A. Walker, shortlisted for a 2008 Independent Public Book Award.

Venue & Address: 
The Porqupines Quill 68 Main Steet, Erin, Ontario

Worn Dialogues: Gallery Conversations

Bust of Harriet Tubman's dress
Sunday, September 20, 2015 - 6:30pm to 7:00pm

Join us once a month for a personal exploration of the exhibit Worn: Shaping Black Feminine Identity and its themes. Special guest speakers give us their take on this stunning work by Karin Jones in an informal in-gallery presentation.

August 16:  Dalton Higgins

September 20: Mimi Joh

October 18 Jessica Karuhanga


Dalton Higgins is a National Magazine Award-winning journalist, broadcaster and author who has written six books that interweave the worlds of digital culture, hip hop and popular culture into one potent mix. He is also one of Canada’s foremost experts on hip hop, the leading youth sub-culture of this generation.

Mimi Joh currently teaches in OCAD University’s Continuing Studies program and writes on contemporary art.  She received degrees in Art History from Cornell University and OCAD U, and worked for many years with German and Austrian Expressionist art in New York.  Mimi Joh is an active volunteer in the arts, holding positions with multiple Toronto based arts organizations. Her varied art background gives her a multiplicity of viewpoints into contemporary art, ideas and themes.  She is particularly interested in how art practices can critically reflect and respond to our society and how they ultimately shape our culture.

Jessica Karuhanga is an artist currently based in Toronto, Canada. Her practice undulates between performance, video, drawing and sculptural processes. She holds a BFA Honors from The University of Western Ontario and a MFA from University of Victoria. Her visual art and performances have been presented at various centres nationally including Royal BC Museum, Deluge Contemporary Art, Art Mûr, Whippersnapper Gallery, OCAD U Student Gallery, Videofag, Electric Eclectics, Nia Centre for the Arts, and The Drake Hotel. Karuhanga was featured in FADO Performance Art Centre's 2014 Emerging Artist Series at Xpace Cultural Centre. She has lectured for the Power Plant's Sunday Scene Series and Art Gallery of Ontario's Idea Bar Series. Most recently she presented her work at 2015 Black Portraitures Conference, a series organized by Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, in Firenze, Italy.


Venue & Address: 
Royal Ontario Museum

OCAD University President Sara Diamond named to Order of Ontario

OCAD University President Sara Diamond named to Order of Ontario
Friday, January 20, 2012 - 5:00am

(Toronto—January 20, 2012) OCAD University congratulates Dr. Sara Diamond, President and Vice-Chancellor of the university since 2005, for her appointment to the Order of Ontario. Recognition of Dr. Diamond’s achievements were made public today in an announcement of 27 Ontario citizens who have made contributions to the arts, law, science, medicine, history, politics, philanthropy and the environment.

The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, will invest the appointees at a ceremony on Thursday, January 26 at Queen's Park.

Dr. Sara Diamond holds a PhD in computer science along with degrees in new media theory and practice, social history and communications.

Sara Diamond with the Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario

"We are delighted that Sara's leadership in education and innovation, at OCAD University and with the many organizations where she volunteers her time, has been recognized by the province of Ontario," says Ian Tudhope, chair of the board of governors for OCAD University. "I want to extend our board's congratulations, and my personal congratulations, to Sara for being appointed to the Order of Ontario."

A group photo of 2012 recipients of the Order of Ontario.

While retaining OCAD University's traditional strengths in art and design, Diamond has guided the university in becoming a leader in digital media, design research and curriculum through the Digital Futures Initiative, new research in Inclusive Design, health and design, as well as in sustainable technologies and design. She also played a leading role in OCAD University's establishment of the unique Aboriginal Visual Culture Program. These initiatives have built strong partnerships for OCAD University with science, business and communities, in Ontario and abroad. Currently, she serves on the Ontario Ministry of Culture’s Advisory Council on Arts & Culture, the Board of Directors of the Toronto Arts Council Foundation, ORANO (Ontario’s high-speed network), SHARCNET, IO (Interactive Ontario), Canadian Women in Communications and is Chair of the Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Toronto Advisory Committee. Diamond serves the larger university community through her membership on the Standing Advisory Committee on University Research (SACUR) of the Association of Universities and Colleges and as Chair of the Standing Committee on Relationships with Other Postsecondary Institutions for the Council of Ontario Universities. Diamond is a member of the Council of the Canadian Academies expert panel on the State of Science & Technology in Canada.

She is a data visualization, wearable technology and mobile media researcher, artist and designer. She developed, a performance and media art, fashion and software collaboration environment. Diamond is founding Chair of the Mobile Experience Innovation Centre and current co-chair (with RBC). She is co-principal investigator on the Centre for Information Visualization/Data Driven Design, an OCAD U/York University major initiative and the board of National Centre of Excellence GRAND. Diamond continues to write about digital media history, digital media and design strategy for peer-reviewed journals. Her artwork is held by prestigious collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, NYC and the National Gallery of Canada.

Diamond was the Artistic Director of Media and Visual Art and Director of Research at the Banff Centre, where she created the Banff New Media Institute (BNMI) in 1995 and led it until 2005. In this role she assisted with the development, incubation and support of many of Canada's leading new media companies. Diamond created and was the Editor-in-Chief of, an online showcase for new media art and design in collaboration with Heritage Canada and The Banff Centre. At the Banff Centre she created international think tanks and collaborations in ICT, digital media and science research with artists, designers and scientists from Latin America, Africa, Asia, Central and Western Europe and the U.S.A., as well as Canada. Later this year, Euphoria & Dystopia: The Banff New Media Dialogues, for which Diamond served as co-editor, will be published by Banff Centre Press and Riverdale Architectural Press, University of Waterloo.

Photos courtesy of the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

OCAD University (OCAD U): 135 Years of Imagination
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.

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Download this release as a PDF document.

For more information contact:

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416-977-6000 Ext. 327 (mobile Ext. 1327)

Taking Ontario Mobile: An Action Plan for Leadership in the Mobile Revolution

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 5:00am

OCAD University’s Landmark Research Shows How a Mobile Ontario Will Improve Productivity, Competitiveness and Public Services

“In today’s mobile economy, it is vital that Ontario continues to support research and technology development in telecommunications. We need to keep current with communication trends and OCAD U’s Mobile Action Plan will help us move our mobile spaces forward, giving Ontarians greater access to information, when they need it.” — Hon. Brad Duguid, MPP Minister of Economic Development and Innovation

(Toronto—January 16, 2013) To become a leading mobile jurisdiction, Ontario needs a forward-looking policy framework that will harness and catalyze the province’s considerable capacity and leadership across the mobile industries. Taking Ontario Mobile[i] lays out a five-year Mobile Action Plan, based on lessons learned in other jurisdictions and successful pilots at home, to bring significant increases in productivity and competitiveness, create and retain jobs in the knowledge industries, and enhance efficiency and access to services for Ontarians.

“The quality of life and economic well being of Ontarians can be radically transformed in the next decade with the possibilities that mobile technologies, networks and applications offer,” said Dr. Sara Diamond, President of OCAD U and co-principal investigator. “The Ontario residents and businesses we polled are eager to adopt mobile services in all dimensions of their lives – what’s more, they want to learn how mobile technologies can facilitate or replace common tasks.”

Explosive growth in the mobile sector is expected to accelerate exponentially: the research confirms that the more mobile services we have and experience, the more we want. Mobile marketing in Canada alone is projected to grow from less than $50 million last year to more than $1.5 billion cumulatively over the next five years.

Ontario has built significant infrastructure to take excel in the mobile revolution. Home to over 700 mobile companies, Ontario is a global leader in mobile patents. It houses world-leading institutions in mobile and wireless engineering and design, and is home to mobile companies that cross many verticals – entertainment, education, health, learning, gaming and productivity. Ontario is an ideal test bed for applications as it includes one of the largest metropolitan areas in North America, and remote, rural and Aboriginal communities. Ontario’s diverse user base possesses the attributes necessary to be a successful “mobile” market.

“The research shines a light on Ontario’s strong multidimensional capacity in the mobile space – from engineering to app development to educational programs,” said Vera Roberts, researcher at OCAD U’s Inclusive Design Research Centre and co-principal investigator. “To focus and deploy these assets, and ensure that all Ontarians share in the social and economic benefits of enhanced mobility, we need an Ontario Mobile Action Plan with a forward-looking policy framework.”

Taking Ontario Mobile Highlights:

Job Creation and Retention

  • The mobile industries are part of a strong economic sector that will continue to expand as mobility becomes even more ubiquitous. Demand in China, India and Brazil for mobile technologies, applications and content is strong.
  • M-commerce and other extended infrastructure will lead to new kinds of jobs in the knowledge economy across many industries. M-commerce can complement Ontario’s strong financial industries.
  • Provides new opportunities to build Ontario’s already powerful entertainment industries through adding multiple consumption channels and screen time, thus bringing new revenue streams and business models.

 Government Services:

  • Government services can be delivered in a more cost-effective manner, combined with efficient just-in-time service delivery.
  • Engaged citizens can monitor and report problems such as infrastructure breakdowns.
  • Government can make use of mobile interfaces that can be highly personalized and meet Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) standards of accessibility.
  • Mobility provides an open data resource that provides means for residents to engage with all manner of public information in order to affect decision-making.


  • The use of mobile devices and experiences can lead to increased flexibility and engagement in learning, and encourage high school completion by supporting experiential learning, mentorship and year-round and self-paced learning.
  • Mobile delivery outside of the bricks-and-mortar campus can lead to efficiencies in the use of capital resources in the PSE sector.
  • Location-based and context-aware educational opportunities developed with Aboriginal organizations can engage and retain learners in their own communities and ensure that they develop the skills needed for employment.
  • M-learning is a core tool to ensure that the Ontario workforce remains competitive, as it helps workers continually adapt to change, provides a valuable tool for reskilling and just-in-time learning, and allows employees to adjust to changing labour-force demands


  • Mobility can be an important lever to enable the movement of medical support from acute care to chronic care, home care and prevention.
  • Mobility can help to provide home services for the growing population of seniors through effective monitoring and mobile healthcare support.
  • Mobile applications can eliminate wait times ensuring that patients go the emergency services, clinics and labs with lower wait times
  • Ontario is home to successful developers of mobile applications and devices who reach international markets

Throughout our research a number of recurring themes emerged, such as:

  • The need to facilitate affordable access to mobile broadband and devices for Ontario residents.
  • The value of a comprehensive regional mobile policy, as exists in other jurisdictions.
  • The importance of industry and government action on secure services and privacy protection in a form that encourages mobile take up by creating confidence, and enables private-sector development while protecting residents.

Downloads (PDFs):

The companion report to Taking Ontario Mobile, Mobile Innovation: Ontario's Growing Mobile Content, Services, and Applications Industry, 2012, was published by the Mobile Experience Innovation Centre.

For more information visit


[i] Full report title is Taking Ontario Mobile: Research-based recommendations for how mobile technologies are part of the financially responsible solution to providing better access to services for Ontarians.


OCAD University (OCAD U):
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. 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.

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Download this release as a PDF document.

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416-977-6000 x327 (mobile x1327)