Designing for Transformation

Designing For Transformation Course

Designing for Transformation

Learning and practicing systemic and strategic design using social innovation frameworks and tools to work transformatively on complex, applied challenges that really, really matter.

The world is defined by increasingly complex and interdependent challenges – from climate and biodiversity crises, to those created by oppressive, social and economic institutions. Each of these challenges opens 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. Transforming how we think and how we collaborate is essential. Investigating how we work within ourselves and across disciplines, sectors, silos and knowledge systems to unleash our individual -and shared potential- in response to what these complex challenges are demanding/inviting of us at this time.

This program is for graduate students who want to step courageously into this opportunity and responsibility.  Those who are interested in learning and practicing frameworks and tools from the design and innovation fields that will support them in this journey through their graduate work and beyond into their workplace and lives. 

What This Course Offers:

  • Learn strategic and systemic design, social innovation and regenerative development theories, frameworks, and practices that embed decolonizing, anti-racism, equity and justice praxes. Learn from leaders across disciplines, sectors, and knowledge systems in a supportive inter/transdisciplinary learning environment that centres abundance, joy, and compassion.
  • Apply + Practice un/learnings and skills that:
    • Invite and encourage high impact graduate scholarship in service of complex challenges;
    • Embed and weave decolonization, anti-racism, regenerative development and epistemic plurality across knowledge systems, disciplines and sectors;
    • Centre experimentation, real-world application, and reflection-as-learning;
    • Grow your capabilities, capacity, and courage in bridging theory and practice – to make your research efforts more relevant, responsible, respectful and reciprocal to community/ies / society.
  • Build Relationships + Co-Create within an inspiring learning community alongside colleagues working across disciplines and knowledge systems on diverse challenges. Connect with course instructors, coaches, and community members to help you explore a diverse range of possible impact-oriented careers and pathways.

You Might Be Interested If:

  • You are a current UBC Ph.D. (or potentially a Master’s) student and have been seeking theories, frameworks, tools, and inspiration to ground your research and professional curiosities into community-engaged, high-impact initiatives that contribute to social, racial, and ecological justice in tangible ways;
  • You’ve heard about approaches like co-creation, social innovation, design, experimentation, systems thinking, decolonizing methodologies and they’ve piqued your curiosity. You’d like to spend some time wandering around these realms with skillful guides; and
  • You want to meet, connect, and collaborate with like-minded scholars at UBC from across disciplines, departments, and experiences.

How We Deliver This Course:

These are non-credit courses for Ph.D. students (and Master’s students with permission); that have been created in two movements: Module 1 – Planting Seeds; and Module 2 – Growing Roots and Shoots.

Time commitment: Three x 3 hour synchronous on-line classes. Tuesdays May 17, 24, and 31 from 9am - 12pm (PT). Additional 3-6 hours of asynchronous reading and practice time.

What You'll Experience:

  • An introduction to foundational frameworks and thinking at the intersections of strategic and systemic design, decolonization, anti-racism, equity, and justice.
  • Exposure to a range of leading practitioners, examples, and stories in a space with colleagues from across disciplines and sectors.
  • Connections with graduate student colleagues with similar interests and ambitions from across the university.

Requirements to Earn the Certificate of Completion:

  • Attendance of 100% of the synchronous course time (9 hours)
  • Active participation in the asynchronous reading and activities (3-6 hours)
  • Commitment to, and ongoing co-creation of, our abundant, joyful, and compassionate classroom.

Time commitment:

  • Five x 3 hour synchronous on-line classes June 14, 21*, 28, July 5, and 12, 2022 from 9am - 12pm (Pacific time). *Note that “class” will take a different form than being together at the same time on-line on this day, to honor National Indigenous Peoples Day as an opportunity for applied reflection and engagement .
  • Between July 19 - September 30, 2022 participate in two x 1 hour coaching sessions and 2 x 2 hour peer feedback workshops.
  • In October, participate in one x 3 hour final workshop.
  • Additional application and practice time during module two will vary from student to student based on where they choose to integrate their learning into their Ph.D. work and/or personal practice. It is expected that students will be actively doing this integration throughout Module 2, with rest time in August.

What You'll Experience:

  • Deeper exploration of a broader range of frameworks and theories, building on foundations set in Module 1.
  • Active application of frameworks and theories through a complex challenge of your choosing, using interactive activities and tools that connect with your own applied research and personal interests.
  • 1:1 and peer coaching support to workshop specific inner/outer work you are doing.
  • Sharing your story of transformation, and supporting the stories of others, at the end of the course.
  • Ongoing reflection-while-learning, development of systems and authentic leadership capacities, and co-creation and collaboration skills throughout.
  • Growing connections with graduate student colleagues also working to deepen the impacts of their work.

Requirements to earn Certificate of Proficiency:

  • Attendance of 100% of the synchronous course time (18 hours),
  • Complete two coaching sessions (2 hours)
  • Join two peer group workshops (4 hours)
  • Demonstrate active application of course learning in their Ph.D. (or related) work through writing a design brief, active use of tools/techniques provided throughout the course, telling your story of transformation (time commitments will vary for different students).


Primarily online and synchronous, with asynchronous coaching and peer group work in Module 2.


  • Module 1 – Planting Seeds: Tuesdays from 9am – 12pm, May 17 – May 31, 2022.
  • Module 2 – Growing Roots and Shoots:
    • Tuesdays from 9am – 12pm, June 14 – July 12, 2022.
    • Two coaching sessions and two peer group workshops between July and September, 2022
    • Final class, October 2022 (date TBC).

Who is This For: For current UBC Ph.D. students. Current Masters students may register for Module 1, but admittance to Module 2 will be on a case-by-case basis.

Cost: No charge.


  • Module 1: Open. Register by midnight (PT) May 16, 2022 to secure a space.
  • Module 2: Spaces are limited to 25 applications. Applications are due by midnight (PT) June 3, 2022. Students applying for Module 2 must have completed Module 1. Spaces are limited to 25 applications. Further details on eligibility parameters to follow.

Upon Completion:

  • Module 1 students that attend 100% of the synchronous course time (9 hours) and actively participate in the asynchronous reading and activities (3-6 hours) will receive a Certificate of Completion.
  • Module 2 students that attend 100% of the synchronous course time (18 hours), have two coaching sessions (2 hours), participate in two peer group workshops (4 hours), and actively apply course learning in their Ph.D. (or related) work through a variety of practices (time commitments will vary) will receive a Certificate of Proficiency.

Meet the Facilitation Team

Core Team:

Lindsay ColeLindsay is an applied researcher and educator, and completed her Ph.D. at UBC in 2021, where she explored the transformative potential of public sector innovation labs alongside action co-researchers from Canada and Europe. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at UBC where she is continuing this work through the Transforming Cities from Within project, and also teaching. Lindsay is also a member of the teaching team for the Certificate in Social Innovation at SFU.

Lindsay is also currently leading the Solutions Lab at the City of Vancouver – a place where breakthrough, transformative solutions to some of the city’s most complex social and ecological challenges are being sought. She’s worked on a variety of exciting projects with the city over her 11 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).

Lerato ChondomaLerato 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 centre 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. Outside of UBC, Lerato serves 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.

Lerato has more than 15 years’ combined experience specific to anti-racism, decolonization, justice and equity especially in applied research design and management. Lerato holds a LL.B from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa and an MBA from the Beedie School of Business at SFU.

Jennifer CutbillJennifer is an Architect and Principal of Lateral Agencya social venture regenerative design and development practice, and a research & capacity-building platform, focused on supporting organizations and communities in developing infrastructures in ways that nurture intergenerational health, eco-social justice and “mutual flourishing” (Kimmerer, 2013). She has been an Adjunct Professor in UBC’s Masters of Architecture and Masters of Engineering Leadership programs and has supported course design and delivery in SPPGA. She is also currently pursuing an interdisciplinary PhD at the intersection of regenerative economics and Indigenous governance, exploring how we might transformatively realize critical infrastructures.

As transformation requires transforming our relationships - internally, interpersonally and institutionally, she increasingly focuses on regenerative strategy and capacity-building with organizations including municipal and regional governments and regional Health and Housing Authorities. She also serves a number of groups in a volunteer capacity, including: the City of Vancouver (Collaborative Leadership); UBC (Advisory Urban Design Panel); Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (Committee on Regenerative Environments); Architects Declare (co-founder, steward, international steering committee member); Architects Divest (co-founder); Vancouver Design Week (co-founder and former director). She also serves as a mentor, guest reviewer and guest lecturer for UBC’s School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture.

Jennifer is the mother of a feisty six year old girl and an unsettled settler of mixed European descent (primarily Brits and red-headed Scots), living as an uninvited guest on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh) Nations. At the core of her efforts is deepening her understanding of what it means to live in reciprocal relationship and relational accountability to these lands and those who continue to steward them since time out of mind.

Guests and Coaches:

Moura QuayleMoura Quayle is founding Director of UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (2017-2019), the former Director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues, and teaches in the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs program. She was appointed Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Academic Affairs at UBC on August 1, 2020.

Moura’s interests lie in rethinking, refining, and rebuilding collaborative spaces at the intersections of academia, government, business and civil society. Her teaching and research focus on strategic design, designed leadership, and an emerging Policy Studio that helps students and organizations learn to use design processes and tools.

She has been Deputy Minister of the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, B.C. Commissioner of Pacific Coast Collaborative, Dean of UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems, and Associate VP, Academic Programs at UBC Okanagan. Moura received an honorary doctorate from the University of Guelph in 2004. She currently serves as Chair of Genome Canada. Her book, Designed Leadership, was published by Columbia University Press in July 2017; and the handbook version of Principled Governance: When Everything Matters that she edited (original text by David S. Fushtey) was released in 2021.

Moura was born to parents of mixed European decent (English/Scottish) on the traditional and unceded territory of the the Snuneymuxw First Nation in the place also known as Ladysmith, British Columbia.

Gil BarrosGil is Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA), University of British Columbia. He is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo (FAUUSP), Brazil.

His research and teaching interests are in design process and methods, mainly how they can be applied for greater social impact, both within and beyond traditional design disciplines, such as architecture, urban planning, and industrial design. During his period at SPPGA, his research aligns with the studies of Strategic Design from Prof. Moura Quayle, primarily focusing on how to improve the design practice for non-designers (people without a formal design background) and the facilitation skills of design professionals, to drive social innovation and positive impact in diverse fields such as healthcare, education, environmental protection, social justice, and economic development.

He completed his PhD and conducted postdoctoral research at FAUUSP, focusing on the use of physical and conceptual models as support tools in the design process. He holds a degree in Architecture and Urbanism from FAUUSP and a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from Poli-USP. In addition to his academic research, Gil has extensive professional experience in the design field, with more than 15 years of experience, when he had his design practice and worked with several large Brazilian companies, international clients, and multicultural teams.

Jenny PhelpsNow in her 19th year at UBC, Jenny is currently serving as Assistant Vice-Provost for Graduate and Postdoctoral Academic Initiatives, and rejoices in this opportunity to support the ambitions of UBC’s extraordinary PhD students to conjure a more just, healthy, and sustainable planet for all.

Her professional passion is to continue to build UBC as a premier environment in which the world’s most creative, passionate, engaged and impact-oriented emerging scholars will thrive.

She was born to the daughter of a Milwaukee brewery worker and the son of a North Dakota farm worker and her life’s journey has seen educational stops in the University of California system (BA), University of Wisconsin system (MSc) and UBC (PhD, Educational Studies). She is a first-generation immigrant to Canada and grateful visitor/settler on the unceded territories xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh) Nations.  Jenny and her wife are parents to two school-age boys who have learned as much by grade 5 about decolonization and social justice as Jenny has in her 50+ years. Progress!

Maggie Low is the Co-Chair of the Indigenous Community Planning (ICP) program at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP). Maggie is a community-engaged scholar who seeks to advance a better understanding of Indigenous sovereignty as it is expressed outside the Canadian courts. Her current research projects and teaching focus on Indigenous planning, climate justice, Indigenous-state relations and decolonization efforts happening within Canadian cities.

Maggie was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario and is of mixed ancestry including Italian, French, German, English and she is a status member of Wikwemikoong Unceded Territory. Maggie has been fortunate enough to work with and for First Nations in what is now known as British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario. Off campus, Maggie enjoys running, camping, drinking good coffee and eating with friends and family.

Additional guests and coaches to be announced.


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.

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