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: 

Graduate Programs Info Nights 2018

Meet with faculty and students from the program to help answer your questions about courses, the learning environment and degree outcomes.

SFI Students represent OCAD U at the HULT Prize Regional Finals in Melbourne, Australia

Hult Prize Tara, Ariana, Jananda, Milena
Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - 2:15pm

Article written by:

Ariana Lutterman

Tara Campbell

Milena Tasic

The Hult Prize is a global business case competition that challenges today’s young leaders to think beyond profit to consider people and the planet, addressing the world’s most complex problems through a lens of social change. Out of the 100,000 teams that applied for the Hult Prize Challenge this year, there is only one winning team that takes home the $1M seed investment to be put towards launching their idea.


Photo: L to R Jananda, Tara, Milena, Ariana

Our Hult Prize journey started in October 2017 when the four of us were in our first year of our Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation, and were selected to work together on a group project for our Human Factors and Business and Design Thinking courses. In these courses, we had the opportunity to develop design interventions around a complex problem of our choosing. We chose a topic—food waste—that would allow us to align with Hult’s 2018 energy innovation challenge. Throughout that semester, we learned so much not only about tackling a wicked problem in a human-centred way, but also about working in an interdisciplinary team.

Our deep understanding of the food waste issue started with a lot of research, which, among many things, brought us to Detroit: a city that struggles with food security, but where a lot of innovation around food waste is currently taking place. What better way to ground our understanding of the food waste issue than to go there ourselves? We returned from Detroit just before the December break and pitched to the OCAD Hult campus competition with an entirely different solution from the one we had originally set out with. Being explicit about what we now knew we wanted from our innovation and how that might fit within Hult criteria had led us to a solution we believed could affect system-level transformation while fostering community autonomy and food sovereignty.

Our team found out we had been selected to participate in the Melbourne Regional Finals when we returned to school in January. It was a competition on the other side of the planet and we didn’t know how we would get there or fund it. But, we knew we wanted to go. We felt not only that Hult would be an amazing opportunity to meet students from around the world working on social innovation projects, but that we owed it to ourselves to put our team values and dynamics to the test. With some incredibly generous support from OCAD’s President’s Office, the Office for Graduate Studies, and the SFI program, we travelled all the way to Australia to represent the University.

Australia was, of course, a trip to remember. Yes, we got to revel in summer in the midst of Toronto winter, but importantly, we had the opportunity to work harder on something than any of us had in a long time. We crafted our trip as a sort of working retreat, parking ourselves at coffee shops for eight hours at a time, seeking Wifi wherever we could find it, Skyping advisors and practicing pitches in hallways and courtyards, getting access to local university working spaces to get our hands on some whiteboards, dreaming of our pitch, working through meals, brainstorming and writing and editing.

By our orientation day in Melbourne, we were ready. Getting away to focus solely on this project had allowed us the time and mental freedom to dedicate all of our energy toward making something we were proud of. We were proud of the idea, of the narrative we had built to communicate it, and of what we knew would make us stand out in a competition of twenty-five impressive international teams. As OCAD U MDes Strategic Foresight and Innovation students, we knew our way of thinking about wicked problems was different than most traditional MBA or engineering approaches. We had the opportunity to listen to so many great pitches and proposed innovations throughout the Hult weekend, but our way of framing a problem space and allowing a human-centred solution to emerge felt uniquely ours.

“The Hult Prize Competition is an exciting opportunity for our students to further develop their practical skills, and explore how to create positive social change on a global scale.” Dr. Michele Mastroeni, Graduate Program Director, Strategic Foresight & Innovation, OCAD University.

We didn’t win a million dollars, but winning the “prize” would have always been a bonus for us, not the primary goal. We wanted to learn how to work with each other and work really hard on something we believed in. We wanted to travel to an international competition and pitch something that aligned with our values. We wanted to pitch something we felt we had worked as hard as we could on. We wanted to dedicate our time and energy and what we’ve been learning at OCAD to real life problem solving - to problems with real impact around the world. So for the four of us, that was winning.

Part of what Hult gave us was the knowledge that we can work well with each other on critical, meaningful work. Whether we pitch to other innovation or business competitions or work together at other points in our lives, Hult has given us new confidence in our own ability to design for social change. We truly believe that any students who want to see how the processes and tools they’re learning can be applied outside of school work should consider applying to Hult. We invite any interested students who want to hear more about our experience or are thinking about the Hult prize to connect with us by emailing








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.


Guest Speaker and workshop with Aldo de Jong: "The Future of Mobility"

Singapore LTA
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 - 6:30pm

Co-creating services for the future of mobility
After an intro presentation on the future of mobility, Aldo will facilitate an interactive session with participants to explore and co-create services to enable future of urban mobility. By combining their understanding of human needs from their ethnographic research in Australia and Singapore and mapping out global emerging value propositions, Claro has identified key opportunity spaces for new services. These will serve as inputs to inspire participants to co-create in small teams innovative products and services for the future mobility landscape.

Aldo de Jong, co-founder of Claro Partners

Together with Rich Radka, Aldo founded Claro Partners in Barcelona 2010. Recently Aldo moved to Toronto, to set up their second hub, at the Centre for Social Innovation. Aldo helps corporations and startups to design services and business models in the context of disruptive shifts. Over the years he has lead deep ethnographic and business expoloration initiatives about the deep shifts that create whole new opportunity landscapes, such as the personal data economy, the internet of things and people, FinTech, the digital customer, from ownership to access, microbusiness, urban mobility and networked business models. Aldo is a strategist with strong analytical capability and business acumen, coupled with creativity and passion for understanding people. He understands what it takes to take an initiative through the organization to the marketplace. He focuses on working with leaders in industries affected by disruption, like media, telecoms, technology and financial services and with disruptive start-ups. Prior to founding Claro, he brought Smart Design to Europe and worked at General Electric. Aldo also co-founded the leading accelerator program Startupbootcamp IoT & Data in Barcelona in 2013. He holds an MSc in engineering from Delft and MBA from IESE. 

Venue & Address: 
sLab 4th Floor, 205 Richmond St. W.

Strategic Foresight and Innovation Students Ranked #1!

Winning Team Fleet with industry leaders and Hult Prize competition at OCAD U Judges
Bo Siu (top left) is a first year Strategic Foresight and Innovation MDes student and they spearheaded the program as selected c
Saturday, December 9, 2017 - 9:00am

The Hult Prize Foundation is the largest crowdsourcing platform and startup accelerator for emerging social entrepreneurs from universities around the globe. The annual Hult Prize competition aims to build and launch the most captivating social business solution for the most challenging problem impacting billions every day.

A group of changemakers from the Strategic Foresight and Innovation  MDes program participated in a quarterfinal round of the Hult Prize competition at OCAD University on December 9, 2017. Four core teams successfully pitched a scalable, sustainable, human-centered design solution to address the challenge of harnessesing the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people by 2025.

Congratulations to Team Fleet for ranking #1! Rachna Kumar, Lucy Gao, and Juan-Carlos Sandoval can pursue the opportunity to fast-track to a regional semi-final round and join the top 50 finalists world-wide by next March. The United Nations Headquarters host the 2018 Global Finals in September to award a winning team with 1 Million USD in seed capital plus mentorship from a renowned business network.

Team Fleet was placed at the top by an esteemed panel of judges and benefactors; Anna Dewar Gully is Founder and Chief Strategist of Women Strategy, Giovanni Marsico is Founder and President of Archangel Academy, and Katherine Roos is Founder and Executive Director of The Imagination Catalyst. Panel members had a special presence as social innovators with progressive values, significant entrepreneurship and scaling credentials.

The Hult Prize Quarterfinal Competition at OCAD University is an extracurricular non-profit student-led social entrepreneurship program. See more on Facebook!

Photo Credit: Krystle Merrow

News Story: Bo Siu

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.

"The Last Days of Reality" talk & Q/A with guest speaker Mark Pesce

Balloon Dog
Monday, October 30, 2017 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm

On the 3rd of October, Snapchat released an augmented reality ‘collaboration’ with artist Jeff Koons. Plopped in the middle of New York’s Central Park, Balloon Dog heralded a new form of presentation - and appropriation. Within 24 hours, artist Sebastian Errazuriz had ‘tagged’ the work (again, entirely virtually), in a “symbolic stance against imminent AR corporate invasion.”

That invasion is already here, marking ‘The Last Days of Reality’, when the boundaries between authentic and manipulated experience collapse into a newly-emerging ‘post-real’ era. What are the rules of the post-real? Who controls our senses - and, by extension, what we think and believe? What other sorts of interventions, appropriations and responses would undermine this latest assault of public space?


Mark Pesce is an inventor, author, educator, broadcaster and entrepreneur.  In 1991 he founded pioneering consumer VR startup Ono-Sendai, inventing a orientation sensor (US Patent 5,526,022) licensed to Sega Corporation for Virtua VR. In 1994, Pesce co-invented the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML), the standard for interactive 3D graphics on the Web, and went on to found BlitCom, delivering streaming VRML entertainment into the browser. Last year Pesce announced plans for the Mixed Realtiy Service (, an open-source Internet-scale system to arbitrate and annotate augmented realities. Pesce founded postgraduate programs at both University of Southern California’s Lucas School of Cinematic Arts, and the Australian Film, Television & Radio School. He currently holds appointments as Honorary Associate at the University of Sydney, and Honorary Adjunct at the Animal Logic Academy of the University of Technology, Sydney. Pesce writes fortnightly a column for The Register, and hosts podcast The Next Billion Seconds.

Presented by the CFC Media Lab, Strategic Foresight & Innovation & Digital Futures Graduate Programs


Venue & Address: 
OCAD University 205 Richmond St. W. 410 sLab
Presented by:

Grad Studies Common Room October ---> "Stand By And" Exhibition

Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 6:00pm to 9:00pm

The October 19th edition of Common Room: "Stand by And", will feature the work of participating Digital Futures, Inclusive Design and Strategic Foresight & Innovation masters students. The theme is experimental, immersive, and digital artwork.

Performances by:

Adam Tindale

Afaq Ahmed

Artwork by:

Jen Serdetchnaia

Alana Boltwood

Kristi Poole-Adler

Samaa Ahmed

October 19th

6:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.
Graduate Gallery, Ground Level, 205 Richmond Street West (Level G)

Cash bar + light refreshments provided.

What is Common Room?
Common Room is a monthly casual, comfortable and collegial social gathering for the graduate community of students and faculty.

Venue & Address: 
Grad Gallery (Level G) 205 Richmond St. W.
Stand by And Poster