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 http://slab.ocadu.ca/project/sshrc-imagining-canadas-future-dd-co-lab.

 

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
SSHRC Logo
Monday, October 23, 2017 - 10:15am
Lab Member: 
Greg Van alstyne
Peter Jones
Suzanne Stein