Relating Systems Thinking & Design 5: Leading Thinkers Converge in Toronto

Liz Sanders presents at RSD5 Symposium
Monday, October 31, 2016 - 2:45pm

The fifth Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD5) symposium took place at OCAD University and MaRS Discovery District from October 13 to 15, 2016. The symposium presented work from the developing intersection of systems perspectives and strategic design known as systemic design. RSD focused this year’s event on systemic design for social complexity, such as the design problems of sustainable business, good governance, social services, urban design, healthcare services, human flourishing, and the intersections of these domains. RSD featured leading presenters from around the world with significant research, validated applications, and engaging workshops.

Peter Jones (RSD5 lead chair and OCAD U professor, Design for Health and Strategic Foresight and Innovation) notes: “We are continuing a tradition started a few years ago in Oslo. RSD combines the deep legacies of systems and cybernetics with today’s emerging design practices and teaching to share in compelling talks and intimate dialogue to bear on many of the complex human challenges we all face in an over-modernized civilization.”

The 2016 symposium featured five keynote speakers:

  • Humberto Maturana, founder of the Santiago School of cognitive science, and originator of the sciences of autopoiesis, evolutionary drift, and structural coupling;
  • Aleco Christakis, (with Maria Kakoulaki), visionary of science of dialogic design, leading thinker in social systems design since the Club of Rome’s “Predicament”;
  • Paul Pangaro, a visionary in design cybernetics, now heading the Interaction Design program at Detroit’s CCS design school;
  • Erik Stolterman, Chair of Informatics at Indiana University, co-author of The Design Way (with Harold Nelson), editor of MIT Press Design Thinking/Design Theory series;
  • Liz Sanders, founder of MakeTools, a leader in generative design thinking, human-centered design, and emerging practice, and co-author of Convivial Toolbox.

RSD is an annual symposium presented by the Systemic Design Research Network, an organization that advances the integration of systems thinking and design, to help individuals and organizations take action towards improving the wicked, interconnected challenges facing our planet. For more information visit:

More about Design for Health:

DesignJam: A Collective Discussion for Northern Ontario

Poster with yellow and red stripes overlaid with black and white text
Thursday, August 25, 2016 - 1:00pm to 8:00pm

How might we re-­energize our economy through entrepreneurship and social innovation?

This special event brings together catalysts for individual and collective development of entrepreneurship and social innovation in Northern Ontario: government representatives, community organizations, industry, academic experts, and young people. Using a Design Thinking process, we will gain new and fresh insight into persistent issues in an interactive format.

We'll explore "How might we... 
diversify our economic foundation, 
support young people in transition, 
build and foster diversity and
revitalize downtown areas
in Northern Ontario cities?"

A Collective Discussion for Northern Ontario is a unique event for 50 people at two locations, who will explore economic development and social innovation in Northern Ontario, through Design Thinking processes. The speakers will be simulcast to both locations, and the workshops will be facilitated locally with north/south shared reporting. 

  • Sault Ste Marie: 1520 Queen St. E., Rm EW205
  • Toronto: 230 Richmond St. W., 3rd Fl., Rm 322

Speakers include: 

Andre Morriseau, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB)

Dr. Gayle Broad, NORDIK Institute, Algoma University

This gathering, which is the precursor to a larger conference in Summer 2017, will be led by OCAD University and Algoma University in a unique partnership between Northern and Southern Ontario institutions, bringing together in depth knowledge of entrepreneurship and social innovation from the North and Design Thinking processes from the South.

Expert "Lightning Talks" will set the context, describing entrepreneurship and social innovation in Northern Ontario and proposing why is it important as an engine economic development as well as for social change. The interactive sessions facilitate connections and conversations, bringing clarity to the topic, surfacing existing initiatives, nurturing potential partnerships and strengthening collective commitment to entrepreneurship and social innovation in Northern Ontario.

The results of this conference will shape a larger conference called INTERSECTION in North Ontario: Entrepreneurship and Social innovation. This will be a larger, two-day event in the city of Sault Ste. Marie, which will build on the August conference and develop further conversations and connections across Northern Ontario.

The event is free of charge (after you register and attend, we will refund your $30.)

If you know of a social entrepreneur who wants to attend this even, and who has a financial barrier (i.e. does not have a credit card), please ask them to contact the organizer, Peter Scott, directly at

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University 230 Richmond St. W. 3rd Floor Conference Room 322

Research Rendezvous

Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm

On Thursday, February 25th 12:00 pm-1:30 pm the Research Office will be hosting a Research Rendezvous in the DF Salon (Room 701K, 205 Richmond) with the following faculty members who will be presenting their research:

Robert Diaz, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Anti-Japanese Nationalisms, Filipina Victimhood, and the Limits of Reparation

Sarah Tranum, Faculty of Design

Designing Sustainable Clean Water Solutions Using Women’s Livelihood Generation and Empowerment Strategies

Robert Diaz is an Assistant Professor in the Faculties of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Graduate Studies at OCAD University. His teaching and scholarship focus on the intersections of Sexuality, Filipino, Asian, and Postcolonial Studies. Diaz is currently co-editing Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos/as and Canadian Imaginaries (under contract with Northwestern University Press), which brings together artists, scholars, and community workers in order to examine the contributions of queer Filipinos/as to Canadian culture and society.

In this talk, Robert Diaz tracks the emergence of two important figures that have come to signify anti-Japanese nationalisms and calls for reparations in the Philippines from the 1990’s onwards, the comfort woman (or women systematically abducted during Japanese occupation) and the japayuki (or women bound for Japan as migrant laborers because of the economic relationship between the Philippines and Japan). By examining the representation of these figures in two provocative cinematic works—Nick DeOcampo’s The Sex Warriors and The Samurai and Gil Portes’ film Markova Comfort Gay—Diaz suggests that Filipino artists have queered the figure of the victimized Filipina in order to expose how anti-Japanese nationalisms reproduce patriarchal assumptions about female victimhood. By queering the comfort woman and the japayuki, these films instead challenge dominant notions of reparation by dramatizing how histories of Japanese colonialism and Japanese capitalist expansion intersect.

Sarah Tranum is an Assistant Professor, Tenure-Track, in Social Innovation Design. As part of TrickleUp Design, Sarah is leading a Canadian-government funding research project based in India. The goal of the project is to work in slum communities to develop a product that provides clean water and can be manufactured locally. Sarah is also working on a sustainably designed and produced consumer product targeting the North American market.

Sarah will use her research project based in South Goa, India, called CleanCube, as the backbone of this discussion to discuss how sustainable clean water solutions can be designed by leveraging income generation and women’s empowerment activities. CleanCube employs these strategies in pilot communities where the need for clean water and improved sanitation goes hand in hand with a lack of economic and social enfranchisement opportunities, especially among women.

Please join us for this exciting session!

Venue & Address: 
DF Salon (Room 701K, 205 Richmond)
Research rendezvous Poster with event info

Sarah Tranum presenting her paper at the 2015 Mumbai Conference

Thursday, December 3, 2015 - 2:00pm

Sarah Tranum, Assistant Professor of Social Innovation in the Faculty of Design, will be presenting her paper, "Designing sustainable clean water solutions using women’s livelihood generation and empowerment strategies", at the International Conference Cumulus Mumbai 2015 "A Vision of Sustainability with Focus on Water". This conference is being hosted by the Industrial Design Centre at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay from December 3-5, 2015, in Mumbai, India.