Sept. 22, 2021 The Division of Human Resources & Equity is now called the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture.

Passionate about improving the student experience on campus? A new equity-centered design program for staff is coming to U of T

The Innovation Hub and the Centre for Learning, Leadership & Culture (LLC) are launching a Design Thinking Experience Program for staff. This ten-week program, designed for staff who are passionate about improving life for students on campus, will provide training in equity-centered design thinking through a hands-on project that tackles a genuine challenge in the University of Toronto campus experience.

Bring your passion for improving campus life to this 10-week series where you’ll have the opportunity to learn design thinking methodologies geared towards enhancing life at U of T. Participants will be prototyping chosen and assigned projects.

What participating staff can expect:

Working on a team with students and other staff members, you’ll see the student experience through their eyes and gain perspective on how it feels to be a U of T student. You’ll also have opportunities to provide mentorship and build connections. In an environment where students and staff can feel separate, working as partners can provide solutions that work for both groups and relationships that improve campus culture.

Why get involved?

Design thinking and the qualitative research skills that accompany it are effective tools for reimagining what existing on-campus services and programs might look like, and for visioning entirely new ones. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about – and practice – designing with rather than for students and other stakeholder groups all the way from inspiration to implementation. Design thinking illuminates how the best solutions come from insights into human behaviour – expand your program development toolkit with this case-based learning opportunity and, on its application, see enhanced engagement levels and program success! Ground yourself in the central principles of design thinking like human-centered design to architect and further culture change at the University.

Join with a project idea in mind and work on a challenge relevant to your daily work, or apply individually and join another team’s design challenge. Either way, the skills you’ll gain will be applicable to service design projects in your future.

Program details:

The program runs from January 9, 2020 to March 19, 2020. By the end of this program, participants will learn and gain hands-on experience with:

  • Various models of design thinking
  • Empathy & design thinking
  • Equity & ethics in design thinking
  • Culture change & strategy in a U of T context
  • Data collection methods including interviews, observations & alternative methods
  • Transcription & data analysis
  • Ideation & prototyping
  • Testing & implementation
  • Reporting & presenting design based research projects

The first step to participate is to join one of our upcoming information sessions:

Online Session

When: Tuesday, November 19th from 1-2pm

Registration:Register online by November 15th

In-Person Session

When: Friday, November 22nd from 9-10am

Where: Room 610, 215 Huron St.

Registration:Register online by November 15th

Commitment is intensive: there will be a mandatory two-hour workshop each week, plus three hours of additional work. Because we work on genuine projects with deliverables and deadlines, we ask that participants commit to full attendance and participation.

Space is limited in this pilot program.

Applications DTEP

Want to Apply? 

Before applying – here are some prompts to help consider why you want to apply to the program:  

  • Have your work/ program of study information readily on hand (e.g. program/work information, contact information, schedule of work/studies available etc.)
  • Consider previous experience you might have had with design thinking/ qualitative research – or what you would like to learn from this program?
  • What motivates you to improve the UofT experience?
  • What do you hope to learn? How will this impact your work, and/or your professional/educational goals?
  • Can you meet the requirements for this program?
    • Mandatory weekly meetings on Thursdays from early January 9th to March 19th from 10:00am – 12:00pm
    • Can commit 3 additional hours outside of the weekly meeting to the work
    • Staff must submit a letter of support from an immediate supervisor endorsing participation in the program and acknowledging their capacity to meet the commitments for the program to
    • Students must submit a letter of recognition speaking to their character and ability to participate fully in this program at the same time as completing their application to

Fill in the application form here by December 6, 2019

More Information:

For more information about this exciting new program, please contact Julia Smeed, Innovation Projects Officer at