Passionate about improving the student experience on campus? Join an equity-centered design program for staff at U of T

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.

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.

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 February 2, 2022 to April 6, 2022, Wednesdays 2:00-4:00 pm. By the end of this program, participants will learn and gain hands-on experience with:

  • Empathy & design thinking
  • Various models of design thinking
  • Equity & ethics in design thinking
  • Qualitative data collection methods including interviews, observations, & alternatives
  • 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:

  • Information Session 1
    Wednesday, December 15, 12-1 pm
    Register online by December 13th
  • Information Session 2
    Tuesday, January 11, 2:00-3:00 pm
    Register by January 7th

Apply online by January 19th!

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 a team, we ask that participants commit to full attendance and participation.

Space is limited.

Want to apply?

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

  • Have your work information readily on hand (e.g., contact information, work schedule, timetable, etc.)
  • Consider experience you have with design thinking and/or qualitative research — how would you like this program to build on your existing knowledge?
  • What motivates you to improve the UofT experience?
  • What do you hope to learn? How will this impact your work and/or your professional and educational goals?
  • Can you meet the time commitments for this program and attend mandatory weekly meetings? Can you commit 3 additional hours each week to the work, outside of the weekly meeting?
  • Staff must organize a letter of support from an immediate supervisor or manager. The letter (which can be an email) should include 1) an endorsement of your participation and 2) an acknowledgment of your capacity to meet the commitments for the program. Supervisors should send their support to by the application deadline.

Complete the application form by January 19, 11:59 pm.