The Future of Art & Design Education


OCAD University

Scope of Work

  • Research
  • Engagement
  • Foresight Workshops
  • Visioning

We worked in a highly collaborative way, bringing together the broad community that shapes the university to develop resiliency, relevance and a culture of innovation.

Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) has been in the business of delivering quality art and design education and research for over a century. The university, like many educational institutions, operates in a shifting landscape, one increasingly experienced online, and shaped by Federal and Provincial economic development policies that favour industry and research alignment. OCAD University’s goal was to maintain and develop a strong foothold within this transforming landscape.

Our Role

Helen Kerr and her team participated in a comprehensive and highly consultative process contributing to the creation of a five-year strategic plan for OCAD University. Helen’s work was to look at the future and the changes that will come, to develop plausible scenarios to make the school more resilient in their strategic planning process. We worked in a highly collaborative way bringing together the broad community that shapes the university.


Consultations included interviews with external representatives from government, arts, design, business and academia. Internally, interviews were conducted with the President, Board of Directors, Senior Cabinet, management as well as students, graduates and alumni. The interviews helped OCAD University understand the perspectives of those involved in leadership positions and to provide insight that would help interpret empirical results.

Our Process

In a world of uncertainty, scenarios help identify both future opportunities and gaps in order to act in the present. Our Horizon Scan addressed two questions: given the identified megatrends, how will societal, political and economic changes alter the role of art, design and culture? And, what will be the key drivers influencing the next five years of art and design education? Scenarios were used to stretch thinking about how OCAD University will continue to be successful in the future.


Our work served as a critical component of the overall strategic planning undertaking. In a time of significant change in the education sector, resilience, robustness and flexibility are required skills. We helped to build a platform to discuss and act on the challenges likely to face the University in the highly competitive, fiscally constrained and technologically demanding future.


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