Designing for Transformation 2023

Learning and practicing social innovation, systemic design and regenerative development using equity-centered and decolonizing methodologies to work transformatively on complex, applied challenges that really matter.

The world is defined by increasingly complex and  interdependent challenges – climate, biodiversity, intergenerational health, and at their common core, equity and justice. They open up the potential and responsibility for each of us to do our very best to contribute to desired possible futures with the privileges, gifts, and opportunities that we hold.

To do this, transforming how we think, act, and collaborate is essential. This involves investigating how we work within ourselves and across disciplines, sectors, silos and knowledge systems to unleash our individual – and collective potential – in response to what these complex challenges are demanding/inviting of us at this time.

This program is for graduate students and Postdoctoral Fellows who want to step courageously into this opportunity and responsibility; those interested in learning and practicing frameworks and tools from design and innovation fields to support them in this journey – through their graduate work, and beyond into their workplace and lives.

“This course has been so inspiring and uplifting and has provided me with a community of systems thinkers at UBC… something I am very thankful for.”
(PhD student, 2022 cohort)

Format: the course will be taught in two models. All* classes will be online and synchronous. Peer learning groups may choose to meet in person. (*Note: we may hold the last session for Module 2 in person – TBC together).

See below for more details on format, content, schedule and requirements for each module.

Eligibility: registration is open to all current UBC graduate students (Ph.D. or Masters) and Postdoctoral Fellows in any department or program. There are no prerequisites for Module 1. Module 2 requires successful completion of Module 1 (spaces are limited). 

Cost: no additional charge beyond your existing UBC enrollment for Summer  term.

Schedule and Commitment

  • Module 1: May 16 – 30, 2023. 6-7 hours/ week.
  • Module 2: June 13 – August 1, 2023. 35+ hours (total).

Registration Deadlines:

  • Module 1: register by midnight (PT) May 14, 2023..
  • Module 2: applications are due by midnight (PT) June 4, 2023. (Application details to follow. 25 spaces available)

Non-Credit Certifications:

  • Module 1: Certificate of Completion
  • Module 2: Certificate of Proficiency

See below for further details

Module 1 provides an introduction to key methodologies and ways of working together - planting seeds for further growth. 

  • Prerequisites: curiosity and commitment.
  • Classes: three online synchronous sessions, Tuesdays from 9:30am - 12:30pm (PT): May 16, 23, 30, 2023.
  • Peer coaching: three peer group sessions (total). Specific timing and location/s to be confirmed amongst each group.
  • Instructor Coachings: one “office hour” / week.
  • Requirements:
    • attend all synchronous class time (3 hours/week), 
    • actively engage with readings and resources (2 hours/week),
    • make one substantial post each week in the online discussion
    • and, participate in three peer group sessions (~1 hour / week)
  • Certification: students that complete all of the above requirements will receive a Certificate of Completion.

Module 2 focuses on expanding and deepening un/learnings and experiences in applying approaches, in a collaborative space supported by a transdisciplinary community of practice - to grow roots and shoots together.

  • Prerequisites: completion of Module 1.
  • Classes: five online synchronous sessions, Tuesdays from 9:30am - 12:30pm (PT): June 13, 20, July 4,18, August 1, 2023.
  • Peer coaching: five peer group sessions, one in between each synchronous class. Specific timing and location/s to be confirmed amongst each group.
  • Instructor Coaching: each of the main course instructors will have at least one “office hour” during the Module. Additional instructor support may be available, depending on demand.


  • attend all synchronous class time (15 hours total),
  • actively engage with readings and resources (10 hours min.),
  • make one substantial post related to each session’s learnings in the online discussion,
  • participate in five weekly peer group sessions (1 hour/week),
  • and actively apply course learnings in their research efforts (time commitments will vary)
  • Certification: students that complete all of the above requirements will receive a Certificate of Proficiency.

What You’ll Experience:

  • un/learn social innovation, systemic design, and equity-centered and decolonizing methodologies from leaders across disciplines, sectors and knowledge systems in a supportive inter/ trans- disciplinary learning environment that centers abundance, joy and compassion.
  • apply and practice un/learnings and skills (directly focused on your research project in Module 2): 
    • that embed and weave decolonization, anti-racism, regenerative development through a plurality of ways of knowing, being and doing;
    • that support high impact graduate scholarship in service of complex challenges; 
    • and that grow your capabilities, capacity and courage in bridging theory and practice through research that is more relevant, responsible, respectful and reciprocal to community/ies and society;
    • all supported through inter/transdisciplinary peer learning groups and 1:1 coaching with instructors.
  • cultivate relationships and co-create new approaches with an inspiring community of practice – comprised of colleagues working on kindred challenges across disciplines and knowledge systems, and instructors (and guests) bridging academia and practice – to together support you in developing impact-oriented approaches and pathways through your scholarship and beyond graduation.

“This has been life changing and affirming.  I hope that this becomes a staple of the educational offerings at UBC.” 
(PhD student, 2022 cohort)

“I am extremely glad I took this [course]. It gives me lots of hope for the world, and new ideas on where my work can fit and contribute!”
(PhD student, 2022 cohort)

Meet the facilitation team:

Core Team

Lindsay Cole

Lindsay is an interdisciplinary applied and action researcher, environmental and social planner, community engaged scholar, and adult educator. Her work sits at the intersections of transformative urban innovation and social and ecological justice and wellbeing. Her research, teaching, practice, and knowledge mobilization work are all in service of imagining and enacting transformative, emergent, and resurgent solutions to complex social and ecological challenges experienced by people working in- and within rapidly changing public sector, community-based, and urban contexts. Every day she tries to do her very best to dream and enact ecosocial justice and liberation in the small ways that she can.

She currently serves as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at UBC, and as the community planner leading the City of Vancouver Solutions Lab (SLab). SLab is a place where breakthrough, transformative solutions to some of the city’s most complex social and ecological challenges are being sought. Lindsay has worked on a variety of exciting projects with the city over her thirteen year tenure, including leading the planning and public engagement process for the award-winning Greenest City Action Plan. Prior to joining the City of Vancouver, Lindsay was an active social entrepreneur. She co-founded and co-directed Sustainability Solutions Group, a workers cooperative consulting company doing climate change and sustainability work. She was also part of the early green building and development sector in Canada, and is proud to have been a member of the team that achieved the first LEED certification for a building in Canada. Lindsay is a white settler living in xwesam (Roberts Creek) in the beautiful unceded self-governing swiya of the shíshálh Nation (Sunshine Coast, BC) with her kid, two cats, and a small flock of chickens.

Lerato Chondoma
Lerato hails from the Batuang Clan of ba ha Moletsane from Lesotho in Southern Africa and is a visitor on the unceded, ancestral territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people where she lives and raises her children. She is currently the inaugural Associate Director for the Indigenous Research Support Initiative and plays a strategic role in providing support to Indigenous communities, researchers and other partners working on partnership collaborations.

Lerato champions and supports scholarship and discourses in Indigenous community-based research, intersectional equity, decoloniality and critical race theory, that focus on the interests and priorities of Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities and researchers. Lerato also works to understand how systems, policy and procedure can support community-university collaborations and address issues of racism, justice and equity on individual and system-wide levels. She is very interested in exploring new approaches to recognize and center alternative ways of knowing and doing and how these are measured and evaluated in our academic systems. This includes mentoring life-long learners with different levels of professional and lived experience taking courses in academic settings.

Lerato served as Chair of the Blackness Committee on the UBC Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force and is currently 2nd Vice-President on the Board of Directors of the Association of Administrative and Professional Staff at UBC. Outside of UBC, Lerato served as Vice-Chair for the Racial and Ethno-Cultural Equity Advisory Committee that advises Vancouver City Council on enhancing access and inclusion for Vancouver’s diverse cultural communities.

Jennifer Cutbill
Jennifer is a registered Architect, regenerative practitioner and founding principal of Lateral Agency – a social venture regenerative design and development practice focused on supporting communities in developing infrastructures that nurture intergenerational health, eco-social justice and “mutual flourishing” (Kimmerer, 2013). During her 12+ years of practice, Jennifer has had the privilege of working with local, regional and Indigenous governments, regional health authorities, post-secondary institutions and non-profits on community infrastructure projects across scales: from pavilion-scale electric vehicle charging and local water-front parks, to mid-rise affordable housing, block-scale regeneration, and strategic planning for regional wastewater treatment systems and Indigenous-led impact assessment practices.

She has taught in UBC’s Masters of Architecture and Masters of Engineering Leadership programs as an Adjunct Faculty, and has supported course design / delivery in the schools of Public Policy and Community and Regional Planning. She is currently pursuing a PhD in interdisciplinary studies to explore the transformative potentials of “restorying” critical infrastructures, through community-engaged research and decolonizing methodologies. She also volunteers with various organizations, including: UBC SALA (as an Advisory Committee member, guest critic and mentor), the RAIC Climate Action and Engagement Steering Committee, and grassroots Architects Declare, Architects Divest efforts.

Jennifer is the mother of seven year old daughter, and a white settler of mixed European descent living as an uninvited guest on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and səlilwətaɬ Nations. She works through her professional, academic and personal efforts to co-create reciprocal relationships and to understand and step up to her relational accountabilities in ways that uphold the rights, values and inherent jurisdiction of host Nations to support mutual flourishing for future generations.

Additional guests will be announced during the session


Our expectation is that you attend all classes to obtain your certificate of completion, and equally/more importantly to co-create an abundant, joyful, and compassionate classroom with one another. Sessions will not be recorded. That said, the instructors are reasonable people that know that Life Happens, and that people have different accessibility needs and wishes that will enable them to thrive in an online learning environment, so let’s all do our best together.

New Canvas users can visit this website to learn about basic technology requirements. There will be times when we'll be doing multiple digital things at once (eg. Zoom + Mural), so it might be helpful to have more than one screen (a nice to have, not a have-to-have).

This studio is rooted in justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, respect, humility and joy. We will seek to accommodate the full range of needs to nurture all to engage at their full selves.

This is a collaborative un/learning journey focused on reflective learning in-practice. It will not be “graded” in a conventional way. We will elaborate further on the co-creative process during the course, including co-development of community agreements.

“I'm so glad I jumped at the chance to be part of [this]!”
(PhD student, 2022 cohort)

If you have any further questions, please contact Jennifer Cutbill at

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