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.

New Graduate Student Travel Fund

Graduate Student Travel Fund
Monday, March 26, 2018

The Office of Graduate Studies is pleased to announce the introduction of the new OCAD University Graduate Student Travel Fund!

This new fund will create a more equitable framework (open to all graduate students across all graduate programs) and with three deadlines annually will create a more balanced approach than the current first-come, first-served funding option.

While many university graduate student travel funds are limited to dissemination (e.g. conference or symposia), the nature of our programs suggests that students would benefit significantly from travel that allows them to do research as well. Rather than create two separate entities, we have determined to use a single fund for ease of operation and distribution. This new fund will be designated exclusively to student travel related to research and dissemination; we anticipate being able to support between 25 and 35 applications annually.

To get things started, we are launching the first competition today (March 2), with a deadline of March 26, 2018. All students who are planning conference or research travel in the next six months are encouraged to submit an application. Principal Advisors and graduate faculty members should also encourage their students to consider applying to the fund in support of their students’ research.

The guidelines and application procedures for the new Travel Fund are available here.

If you have any further questions, please contact the Graduate Studies Officer, Anne Ahrens-Embleton at aahrensembleton@ocadu.ca.