Design Educators Conference
General Information
  • Each year, in partnership with a different educational institution, RGD invites design educators to consider the future of creative education.


    The 2017 Design Educators Conference takes place Monday, November 6 at Ryerson University, coinciding with RGD's DesignThinkers Conference.


    Presenters will discuss this year's theme, Learning From the World, For the World.

    Design has tremendous power to engage with global social, economic, cultural and environmental challenges. It is useful for design educators to reflect on where design has been and to think about where it will go in order to understand how design pedagogy can prepare students to be agents of and for change.   What considerations and issues must educators address in order to best prepare the next generation of designers? By examining the evolving contexts and practices of design around the world, we seek areas of opportunity in which design curricula and the industry can evolve.



    Educator Conference only: $175
    Educator Conference (if registered for both days of DesignThinkers 2017): $75
    Educators Conference (if registered for 1 day of DesignThinkers 2017): $125
    * Includes Members of RGD, GDC, SDGQ, IDC, Editors Canada & ACIDO

    Educators Conference only: $225
    Educators Conference (if registered for both days of DesignThinkers 2017) $125
    Educators Conference (if registered for 1 day of DesignThinkers 2017) $175

    Register for DesignThinkers & the Design Educators Conference here.


    This event is sponsored by Monotype


    The detailed schedule will be available in early October.

Keynote Presentations
  • The Hidden Forces of Design

    Liz Danzico, Chair and Co-founder of MFA Interaction Design at SVA and Creative Director for NPR

    Just like buildings adapt when refined by their occupants, so do products when employed by their users. Language, shape, colour, sound and context unite in unseen forces that influence how people interact with products and services. Habits form. Opinions get opined. Over time, products adapt. In this talk, Liz identifies the emerging and informal economies of behaviour that ultimately shape the products and services we design.


    Liz Danzico

    Liz is Chair and Co-founder of MFA Interaction Design at SVA. Liz has advised initiatives that bolster new ideas in design and education, and journalism, including the Austin Center for Design, Bridge Guild and the Journalism + Design Program at The New School. She is also Creative Director for NPR, whose mission is to create a more informed public. She guides both the visual and user experience across NPR-branded digital platforms and content. Previously, Liz was an independent consultant, working with businesses on design, planning and execution of short- and long-term digital programs. She cultivated user-centered programs through collaborative methods in education, digital design and technology to foster positive change. Collaborators include Teach for All, The New York Times, This American Life and the TED Prize. 

  • How can designers dismantle systems of injustice, not only to free those who are materially disenfranchised but also those who are imprisoned by privilege and bias? Teaching designers to be purposeful interrogators of self, systems and society is a starting point. The goal is to expose the opportunities designers face in championing diversity and inclusion in their work process, as a goal of professional development and as shapers of culture. In this presentation, we explore the tools of design thinking in the interrogation of systems in which we are entrenched, and discuss prototyping concepts intended to facilitate change.


    Jennifer Rittner

    Jennifer founded the communications strategy firm Content Matters in 2009 to help creative businesses thrive by defining their voice and learning how to communicate effectively with diverse audiences. As a lifelong educator, her goal has always been to enable meaningful relationships between people whose lives intersect around ideas, common goals, collective experience and a shared vision. Prior to consulting, Jennifer worked for international design consultancy Pentagram, as well as Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning and the AIGA. Jennifer has taught design management at Parsons the New School for Design and FIT. She also teaches various topics in art and history at the Montclair Art Museum, Montclair Historical Society and Van Vleck House & Gardens. She is currently working on a series of articles that address the intersections between design and social justice.  

Presentations & Workshops
  • How can design thinking cultivate creative confidence among designers and non-designers alike? How can working with interdisciplinary teams make students more aware of others’ differences and encourage them to develop a mindset of empathy in the future? In this presentation, we discuss the development of one of our educational design thinking curricula and how the pedagogical method we are following is helping us improve the curriculum every time we run the program. Hanadi describes the ‘International Design Thinking Week’ event that runs twice a year at the HPI School of Design Thinking in Germany as a research case study. She presents the qualitative research methods used in their study and highlight some of their findings such as how students became more willing to better understand other cultures and experiences through learning to listen and empathize, and how their perspective about their own creative abilities changed over the 7 day workshop.


    Hanadi Traifeh
    Hanadi is a Research Fellow at HPI-Stanford Design Thinking Research Program.
    Her primary research interests include the digital transformation of design education, learner-centric education design and the effective use of Design Thinking in education. She led and contributed to the design and implementation of several educational and capacity building programs around the world for various organizations. Hanadi also runs her design studio in Toronto and Berlin. Hanadi holds an MA in Fine Art from the University of Wales, a Post Graduate Diploma in Visual Communications and a certificate in Instructional Design from George Brown College.


    Claudia Nicolai

    Claudia is Academic Director of the HPI School of Design Thinking in Potsdam/Germany. She holds a PhD in Strategic Management from the University of Potsdam and is a visiting professor for several academic institutions. Claudia has been designing the educational programs and research activities at the HPI D-School since 2010. She co-developed the d-school in Malaysia (genovasi) and the HPI d-school at the University of Cape Town, as well as the biothinking program at the Charité. Together with her team, she is researching design and innovation management, new working environments & leadership and team dynamics.

  • In order to prepare students to be global agents of and for change, we first need to address boredom as a root cause of student bias, risk aversion and performance inhibition. York University’s John Eastwood cautions that what manifests as boredom in the classroom often masks a state of anxiety, stress or a resistance to learning new skills. Add to this baseline resistance the much greater ask of learning to be a conscious global designer and we have the perfect storm for active disengagement as a coping mechanism. On the spectrum from boredom to anxiety, we run across an active state of curiosity. This active state is the ideal that we are all trying to instil in our students. How can we, as design educators, make use of boredom as a learning tool? How can we help students to accept and befriend boredom as an essential tool to self-knowledge, and, beyond that, to view their own potential as agents of change?


    Carley Hodgkison
    Carley is a faculty member in the Graphic Design for Marketing (GDMA) degree program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Richmond, BC. Prior to teaching full-time, Carley practised as a book designer, branding expert and, more recently, UX designer. She holds a Master of Design degree from NSCAD, where she investigated the role of design in transitional urban public spaces. Since then, her interests have led her to work with co-building public art spaces, maker experiments with Arduino and Raspberry Pi and, more recently, re-engagement with design pedagogy. She particularly loves torturing students with lateral thinking exercises.

  • Mariam teaches design at a private university in Mexico City, where her main challenge is engaging privileged students with social responsibilities. Mexico is a country of social and economic contrast. Understanding mixed identities is difficult, but it leads the way to understanding diversity and enabling inclusion. After 10 years of teaching Design with User Centered Techniques, we now know that empathy helps, but is not enough, when you contrast two very different realities. One might be living through an 18 month drought and its consequences in the countryside. The other is the experience of having more than18 brands of bottled water to choose from in a wealthy neighbourhood of Mexico City. Future designers need to understand the limitations of their own perspective and be trained in critical thinking to be able to adjust that perspective. Also, opportunities for being trained as designers must be opened for all. Based on this observations, Mariam explores our chances for co-design and co-creation, far beyond empathy.


    Mariam Bujalil

    Mariam studied Graphic Design at Universidad Iberoamericana and holds a M.A in Contemporary and Modern Art, by Casa Lamm in Mexico City. She is currently head of the Textile Design Program. 


    Marimar Sanz

    Marimar studied Graphic Design and holds a Master's Degree in Strategic Design from Universidad Iberoamericana. She recently received her PhD at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Rio de Janeiro with her work "Contributions of Graphic Design to promote social participation through the Internet in Mexico". Marimar was Head of the Graphic Design Program for 6 years, and now heads the Special Projects Program at the same department.

    They are both part of the Faculty of the Design Department at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. They are both leading Strategic Design groups of students in their last year, in social innovation projects, alongside indigenous communities in Mexico. They have each published various articles on design and design teaching and have organized design teaching-oriented events and conferences.


  • Using his personal experience as an academic leader at two Canadian post-secondary institutions, Michael presents an overview of his involvement in international projects designed to help students and staff enhance their global perspectives. The first project was designed to help women from disadvantaged regions of Brazil gain access to the national college system. From 2008 through 2011, he led a faculty team on several site visits to cities in northeastern Brazil, where we worked with local college staff to create ‘prior learning assessment’ procedures and conducted craft and design workshops to help improve students’ prospects for employment or self-employment. At the end of the three-year project, 1000 women were successful in completing the program; in the process they changed not only their career options, but their lives. The second project is related to Michael's leadership role at Seneca, where students in the Graphic Design program are involved in an ongoing exchange program with Artevelde University in Belgium. Students from both institutions earn credits towards their own academic credentials while studying abroad. Faculty are now participating in the exchange program, presenting papers and conducting workshops at both institutions. Like his experience in Brazil, the participants in this program feel it has transformed their understanding of global issues.


    Michael Maynard RGD
    Michael is an award-winning graphic designer with extensive experience as a design educator and academic leader. He has taught graphic design at Georgian and Sheridan College and was founding Director of the School of Design at George Brown College. He is currently Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Art and Design at Seneca College. Michael is a published author and lectures regularly on design and the creative economy. He earned his BFA at Tufts University, his MFA at York University, and his PhD at the University of New Brunswick


  • Through various teaching strategies and tactics such as Design-Based-Learning (DBL), Backwards Thinking™ (flipped classroom) and Never-Before-Seen, Carole raises student awareness of crucial issues and helps them discover the causes that affect them personally. This awareness-raising process takes place through two courses:

    1- Design Studio III (y2): Without proposing solutions, students must individually illustrate the problem of their choice through the use of communication tactics (visual rhetoric, semiotics, etc.) in an environment of DBL and Backwards Thinking™. Posters are produced to inform or inspire action by the selected audience. Critical sessions are then held to discuss projects and to develop ideas in groups.

    2- Design Thinking Seminar (y3): Students select a local problem that is also an issue at the global level. They must then identify strategies, research tactics and propose solutions. This course takes place in an environment of Backwards Thinking™ and Never-Before-Seen (Invent from previous knowledge).


    Carole Charette
    Carole is an Assistant Professor in the Design Studies program at MacEwan University. She holds a PhD in art and design education from Université Concordia, an MFA in typography and a Bachelor Degree in Communication Design from Université Laval. She co-founded Trio communication-marketing inc. and works for several clients such as ING, RDI, UQAC, Conseil canadien du bois and Desjardins. She has acted as the President and CEO of the Societe des Designers Graphiques du Quebec (SDGQ) for ten years. As a complement to her academic and professional work, she is a researcher investigating First Nations iconography.

  • Students in the Bachelor of Design program at the University of Alberta are taught to critically analyze social marketing campaigns in a second year research class in Visual Communication Design Studies. In this class, students create an analytical tool to aid in the systematic exploration of the different campaigns with the same theme. Using the tool, they redesign one of the campaigns in 3 unique ways. The purpose of the redesign is to generate different versions of the same message using their analytical too. In this exercise, they are able to analyze what makes a successful social marketing campaign objectively, rather than relying on bias and inspiration as a way to generate a message strategy.


    Gillian Harvey
    Gillian is an Assistant Professor in Design Studies, Department of Art & Design at the University of Alberta, where she teaches undergraduate students design theory, practice and research. Her recent work uses applied design research for the purposes of communicating a procedure in emergency situations. Gillian’s research interest in signage and wayfinding has led her to critically explore wayfinding systems and their importance to urban growth and development in a city. She is President of the Edmonton Wayfinding Society in and an IIID World Region Representative.

  • In the mandatory Communication Design 1 course at Sheridan College, design students choose their theme for the semester from a curated list of current social issues. They are then instructed to perform research on their social issue, while developing their own personal stance. Throughout the semester, students advocate their own point of view in three different design assignments, each one focused on a different audience. When Adam began teaching this course, he noticed that the student work suffered from many recurring problems. Students were often creating ineffective designs and rhetorical arguments that would “preach to the choir” while treating contradictory opinions as ignorant, bigoted or worse. Adam elucidates on many of the successful changes that have been made to this course, so that other teachers can easily utilize and implement the lessons learned in their own classroom curriculum.


    Adam Rallo RGD
    Adam is the Principal and founder at Catalyst Workshop, a Toronto-based design and development consultancy. He teaches as part-time faculty at both Sheridan and Humber College, while serving on the curriculum committee for the Bachelor of Design program at York University / Sheridan College and serving on the Senate at OCAD University. A vocal proponent of accessible and inclusive user-centric design, Adam is passionate about creating positive social impact through the interaction of design, pedagogy and technology. He has been practising design professionally since graduating Cum Laude from the York/Sheridan Bachelor of Design program in 2002. His diverse body of work has included an invaluable three-month stint in Ghana and designing one of the top ranked downloads at


  • Since the 1960s, increased visibility of design’s role in contributing to real world challenges has led to significant opportunities. At its best, Social Impact Design (SID) reflects the creative industry’s ability to advocate for positive change. At its worst, SID is a mechanism through which design is rewarded for exploiting racial and economic privilege. A question remains as to whether or not students are prepared to engage in challenging conversations with communities halfway across the globe, let alone with fellow classmates. This session addresses “lessons learned” in higher education, focusing on case studies that challenge existing models for engaging students in national and international Social Impact Design projects. Anne and Penina facilitate discussion regarding success metrics and assessment methods for collaborative partnerships, sharing and soliciting alternative approaches that support inclusive design curricula and pedagogy.


    Anne Berry
    Anne is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Cleveland State University. Her most recent projects include a permanent exhibit for the Civil Rights Heritage Center in South Bend, Indiana, and identities for the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Research and Center for Social Concerns. She is a co-founder of the creative studio LightBox and serves as the Chief Creative Officer for the online peer feedback educational platform Round3. In addition to teaching, she is researching topics focused on ethnic/racial diversity in design education, design for social impact and diversity issues within the design profession.


    Penina Acayo

    Penina is a designer and assistant professor of communication design at Washington University in St. Louis. Her work and research centre around topics that utilize a human-centered approach to solve social problems. In 2013, she collaborated on an award-winning project that used simplified iconography to communicate ailments associated with the spread, prevention and treatment of malaria in Kibera, Kenya. This work has received multiple awards, with Metropolis Magazine naming it runner-up in its Next Generation Design Competition; it also earned the Student Notable Honoree status after placing in the top six of all national entries in the Core77 2013 Design Awards.

  • As educators, how do we move students from a place of narrow self-interest to become knowledgeable and responsible global citizens? This presentation offers one path to achieving this goal. The poster is a strong, direct tool and it is easily transportable to other mediums. Combining poster design with social awareness allows students to understand and apply the principles of design, and enables them to take an active role as advocates for a cause they believe in. In this presentation Natalia shares her experiences as a professional graphic designer, creating posters for several international non-profits. She continues by explaining her experience teaching poster workshops in Ghana, Mexico, Egypt, Ecuador and Canada and designing the curricula for the The United Nations General Trust Fund project “Draw me Democracy”. She also presents her work building the online community that brings together more than 9,000 poster enthusiasts from around the world. Finally she offers advice for those who wish to bring this project into their classrooms and involve students in poster design that is ethical, educational and promotes citizenship.


    Natalia Delgado
    Natalia is a designer, educator and entrepreneur with more than 15 years experience. She has a Bachelor Degree in Graphic Communication Design and a Master's Degree in Science and Arts for Design from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana and a PhD in Arts Education from the University of Victoria where she also worked as a sessional instructor. Natalia has shared her original design process and vision in conferences and workshops around the world and her work has won numerous awards, has been exhibited in more than 100 locations and published in numerous magazines, websites and books. She is co-founder of Poster Poster, a virtual community that celebrates the power and influence of posters in our culture. She is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City.


  • In order to support students and their ability to discuss cultures with sensitivity, research methods that deal directly with culture in the early years of undergraduate design studies are a must. Faculty from OCAD University (OCAD U) and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) are collaborating on experimentations in curriculum development to consider culture’s​ critical role in design. This presentation focuses on phase one of a three phase study: information gathering using ethnographic methods. Results from this phase will ask that students co-create curriculum through the development of phases two and three. This collaboration will engage students cross-culturally in the hopes of creating awareness, openness and sensitivity.


    Nancy Snow

    Nancy has practised graphic design—predominately in government and higher education—for over 18 years. She has presented her work on design pedagogy, food studies and knowledge exchange at multiple conferences across North America, in Australia and Europe. Currently her research and writing focuses on graphic design in a variety of contexts: the beginning design student, Writing Across the Curriculum, rhetoric and social semiotics, human-computer interaction and food insecurity (food studies).


    Saskia van Kampen RGD

    Saskia van Kampen is a practising graphic designer and Assistant Professor at OCAD University. She has presented her research on the intuitive methods of creation, critical design pedagogy and Writing Across the Curriculum at numerous national and international conferences. She also continues an active personal practice and is represented by a Montreal art gallery.

  • In a global environment where graphic design services are becoming a commodity, soft skills are integral for students to succeed in the industry. As the passive lecture-based method of learning becomes obsolete, research into new pedagogical methods is necessary. These include experiential learning techniques that, most importantly, offer opportunities for students to interact with real people. Rafael discusses how his work with non-profit organizations in Hamilton and Toronto, and interaction with design schools in other countries, has helped his students to develop valuable people skills that are being recognized by creative agencies and studios that have retained his students as interns.


    Rafael Ferreira
    Rafael is a graduate of Universidade Católica de Campinas, and has a Post-graduate Diploma in Creative Advertising from Escola Superior de Propaganda & Marketing (ESPM) in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He currently works at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario.


    Originally from Brazil, Rafael has worked as an Art Director in Brazil, the US and Canada. His design work has been featured in numerous publications including Communications Arts, Applied Arts and Computer Arts and has won numerous Awards. He's also an avid photographer, earning a 2013 Applied Arts Photography Award and 2010 Coupe Magazine Award.


  • As educators, our primary role is to prepare the next generation of designers with technical skills and artistic sensibilities. But we must also prepare them for an evolving social landscape that includes inclusive design. In this session, we discuss Making Accessible Media: Inclusive and Accessible Design in Broadcast Media, a fully accessible online course that focuses on representation of disability in media, captioning, transcription, described video and live captioning, alternative text for image description and tutorials on how to design accessible documents. Participants will discuss how they are currently or are planning to model inclusive design in their classrooms.


    Jennie Grimard

    Jennie is a digital design professor at Humber College. She works with Media Foundation students, introducing them to design and how to organize their creative visions. She has been working as a digital designer and teaching since 2008. Working with clients across a variety of industries, she recognizes her responsibility to introduce accessibility needs to clients and design universal communication materials for greater reach.


    Anne Zbitnew

    Anne is an image capture and visual literacy professor in the Media Foundation program at Humber College. She has been working as a photographer for over 25 years and teaching since 1990. Anne is an advocate for accessibility and is spearheading projects that ensure all students can reach their full potential. Accessible and inclusive design can lead to interest in social justice and reveal different ways to tell a story, define history, illuminate and mystify.

  • Students in the Graphic Design Advanced Diploma at Conestoga College worked on a team-based design project to engage elementary school students in discussions about equity. The design project focused on creating a series of images that would assist public school teachers with critical thinking exercises in their classes, while addressing the school board's commitment to various equity lenses. The stakeholders included two diverse public schools, elementary school students, administrators and teachers from both schools and the project’s client, Unlearn. Unlearn is a social venture and educational program that focuses on critical thinking about social justice issues. Through a series of posters and workshops, Unlearn provides resources to elementary school teachers that address equity issues in the classroom and the community. As part of their research, design students met with public school students, teachers and administrators, participated in an Unlearn workshop and presented concepts for feedback sessions. Throughout the process, design students addressed many issues including: questioning their choice of iconography and details in imagery; associations of imagery to diverse audiences; and personal biases in creating designs about equity and diversity that would be used in a public school setting.


    John Baljkas
    John has a Bachelor of Fine Art, Honours First Class, from the University of Manitoba and a Master of Fine Art  from York U, both degrees specializing in graphic design. He has been a professor in graphic design at Conestoga College for nine years, and has taught design courses at George Brown College, Humber College, OCAD University and York University.


    Molly Hill RGD

    Molly is a Professor of Design at Conestoga College and has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Honours (York University). Molly has been teaching design for nine years and was a Member of the RGD's Education Committee for five years.

  • Partnering with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) offered opportunities to help develop polytechnic education in Cuba. Thoughtful, respectful analysis of the economic, political and post-secondary environments was required to provide effective recommendations and training. Stjepan focused on developing design understanding and improving capacity for producing enhanced digital learning objects in the Cuban context. Additionally he recommended the infrastructure required and the training necessary to produce strong curriculum objects. There are several considerable limiting factors when working in Cuba and a direct translation from Canadian to Cuban contexts is not possible.


    Stjepan Balenovic
    Stjepan is a graduate of the University of Alberta Bachelor of Design Program BDes. Currently he is the Manager of Digital Media & Technology (DM&T) at NAIT in the Learning and Teaching Commons (LTC). Stjepan understands the value of informal education to enrich and enlighten the student and instructor experience. 



  • Getting students involved, excited and engaged in designing solutions for social and global issues must be part of the future in design education. Angela's students are engaged in designing for topics ranging from anti-gang violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, environment, poverty, mental heath, exploitation and pet adoption. Students are engaged in self-directed research and work independently to develop their final campaigns. Developing personas, empathy maps and psychographics deepens their thinking. Using design and technology, students develop concepts to counter problems, raise awareness, increase donations or recruit volunteers. Solutions range from apps, events, social media, video, games, holograms and traditional campaigns.


    Angela Bains
    The founder of two design firms, Angela is currently a partner in TransformExp, a design firm that specializes in designing experiences. Angela has taught graphic design for seven years at the University of the Arts London and is currently an instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, where she teaches Strategic Design for Business. She brings a unique experience to her teaching, having designed for social causes, including the “Free Nelson Mandela” and HIV Aids and Safe Injection Site campaigns. Angela is a two-time teaching award recipient and has been awarded BCIT Teaching Excellence Awards in 2015 and 2016. She has organized a number of career events for her students and most recently held a successful event for Vancouver Design Week 2017.




  • Gen Y students see the opportunity to make change as an essential element of their future careers. And while the chance to ply our craft to advocate or inform is a start, today’s rapidly evolving job-scape demands more than design chops and soft skills. This participatory workshop starts with bodystorming and empathy setting exercises to get wheels turning and blood flowing, and introduces two tools:

    (1) Career Brief: Prompts students to:

    a. See themselves in an optimistic near future (Gain perspective)
    b. Create values-driven personal branding (Orient themselves)
    c. Begin to set a career narrative that answers our central question:
    How might we, as designers, be useful, inclusive and share well to prosper? (Articulate their story)

    2. Crowd Clover: See the people you’ve interacted with as types of nodes in your network: catalysts, connectors, enablers and promoters. Assigning roles to people in your personal and extended networks creates new avenues through which they might support or connect you.


    Patrick Robinson RGD

    As a social-minded design thinker, Patrick plays an evolving role in his communities; working to elevate and activate a betterment agenda alongside educational leaders and professional associations. In addition to 20 years of experience in the design and advertising industry, he has over 1,000 hours of teaching and thousands of hours volunteering with a variety of organizations including RGD, MIT Enterprise Forum, +Acumen, BLab and Ashoka Canada. Patrick is currently the Operations Lead and Event Designer for DesignJAM at OCAD University. 


  • What if school was a place where students learned the skillset necessary to become meaningful agents of change? What if school was a valuable playground for developing their capacities to be architects of the future - not suffer as its victims? What if they learned the leadership skills and mindset to co-create solutions to social and/or environmental challenges that help shape desired futures for their community? A new model for developing these capacities is emerging and creating a new kind of learning and leadership environment known as Design Labs. The purpose of the design lab is to engage multi-disciplinary teams of students, faculty/staff and community partners in the process of co-creating solutions to complex problems using a human-centered approach. They draw on a range of design tools like storytelling, empathy-building, rapid prototyping and reflection.


    Jennifer McDougall
    Jennifer is a facilitator, design researcher and futurist. She has facilitated leadership development and social justice workshops internationally, has taught courses in Research Methods for Human-Centered Design and has worked collaboratively to design futures interventions for leaders in sustainable development and environmental justice. Jennifer has her Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University and is a Founding Partner of Leading Minds Lab, a design consultancy working to develop the leaders and builders of the future. 

  • Due to the nature of school-based learning, students do not often experience the stresses and uncertainty that comes through working with clients. This workshop immerses participants in the stressful environment of working with current realities. The hands-on experience demonstrates how teams can productively and efficiently deal with a changing client brief and how unexpected constraints and obstacles can drive creativity to a higher level. In this workshop, teams will work with actual materials to respond to a design brief that is presented at the start. Then, the brief is dynamically adjusted to reflect a real-world scenario with shifting requirements due to organizational conditions and unexpected changes in the market and social environment.

    Arlene Gould MBA RGD FRSA
    Arlene is a design educator and researcher. She teaches courses in Design and Design for Sustainability at York University and she is the Academic Coordinator for the Design Management Certificate Program at Ryerson U. Arlene is the Strategic Director for the Design Industry Advisory Committee and a Board Member for Sustainable Buildings Canada and for the Design Fabrication Zone at Ryerson U.


    Kevin Stolarick PhD
    Kevin holds a PhD in Business Administration and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University, a Masters in Higher Education Leadership from the University of Toronto and a BS with Honours in Applied Computer Science from Illinois State University. He has taught numerous courses in Creative Cities, Design Management, Statistical Analysis, Information Systems and Regional Economic Development. His research interests include understanding the importance of creativity, innovation and inclusion to regional economic growth and prosperity.

  • This workshop shares the methods and outcomes of a design research project—The Fashion Hackathon. The Fashion Hackathon was an event for LGBTQ2 high school students that explored the experiences of non-binary gender identities through fashion. Based on the outcomes of participatory workshops, students co-created a fashion show to showcase their ideas and styles. Methods from this project are being implemented into a post-secondary course on experience design. This session explores the pedagogical possibilities of The Fashion Hackathon for design education and provides an overview of participatory design methods in the classroom, as well as offering a hands-on experience of one of these methods.


    Daniel Drak
    Daniel is a Project Strategist and Contract Lecturer in Ryerson U’s School of Fashion. He has a Bachelor of Design from Ryerson and a Master of Science from Parsons the New School for Design in Strategic Design and Management.


    Ben Barry

    Ben is an Associate Professor in the School of Fashion at Ryerson U and leads the Design Network for the Faculty of Communication and Design. He holds a PhD in Management from Cambridge University.


    Daniel and Ben are partners both in work and in life, and they operate Drakbarry, an organization that leverages design to advance social causes.

  • This workshop begins with an overview of the courses, strategy and research behind Millikin University's new interdisciplinary minor, Design Thinking For Leadership. Through a series of quick Creative Jam sessions, participants will experience sample classroom content which requires them to use design thinking to propose empathetic solutions for challenges that people face in their daily lives. Participants will be asked to complete provided worksheets which will require them to quickly create a variety of solutions for that design brief via thumbnail sketches. Participants will work individually and in small groups to complete the Creative Jams and will present their solutions within that group for feedback. Following each Creative Jam, successful solutions that were previously made by myself and my students are presented.


    Jessa Wilcoxen
    In addition to being the founder of Creative Spark, Jessa is an Associate Professor & Chair of Arts Technology at Millikin University where she specializes in aesthetic, technical and business aspects of design, digital illustration and multimedia. Jessa has played a vital role in the launch and success of the new Arts Technology major which began in 2016. Prior to joining the faculty at Millikin, she taught courses in graphic design and interactive media at Greenville U, Arkansas State U and the U of Memphis. During her time at Greenville U, students within the department won 71 American Advertising Awards under her mentorship. 


  • Design students from the University of Alberta’s Visual Communication Design program use design research techniques to engage with members of diverse communities and empathize with the diverse needs of students. Students use a photographic approach, working in teams to collect snapshots of artifacts and environments to gain an understanding of the visual landscape of health for youth, on campus and nearby. This activity considers the designer’s role and responsibility in creating persuasive messages in different media that have the power to invade private spaces and activate public places to connect, influence, inform, provoke and marginalize people.


    Gillian Harvey
    Gillian is an Assistant Professor in Design Studies, Department of Art & Design at the University of Alberta, where she teaches undergraduate students design theory, practice and research. Her recent work uses applied design research for the purposes of communicating a procedure in emergency situations. Gillian’s research interest in signage and wayfinding has led her to critically explore wayfinding systems and their importance to urban growth and development in a city. She is President of the Edmonton Wayfinding Society in and an IIID World Region Representative.