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Diversity, Equity and Sustainability Initiatives

Creating new ways of understanding and acting that strengthen communities, build social capacity and economic strength and promote positive transformation and change.

Tea light holders from O-Days 2014. Photo by Sarah Mulholland.

New location: The ODESI office is located on Floor 6, 230 Richmond St. W.


OCAD University will foster a rich engagement with multiple perspectives and practices, and our students will be formed and informed by a wide spectrum of knowledge and experience embodied in an inclusive variety of communities, philosophies and ways of knowing. OCAD U will provide a work and learning environment that respects, supports and values all students, staff and faculty, and that promotes equitable access to, and participation in, OCAD U's ecology. OCAD U will advance a vision of "just sustainability" that foregrounds equity and imagines new ways of understanding and acting that strengthen communities, foster global citizenship, build social capacity and economic strength, and promote positive transformation and change. 

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Sustainability Initiatives (ODESI) supports this vision by:

  • Creating or supporting opportunities on campus to advance understanding and promote social change through collective and critical reflection, knowledge generation and mobilization, and art and design creation
  • Coordinating, informing or supporting organizational change strategies that are designed to acknowledge and redress systemic, structural and historical disadvantage in employment and educational policy and practice, promote a culture of inclusion and advance sustainability.
  • Providing information, training and educational opportunities, and capacity building in the areas of equity, accessibility, human rights and sustainable practices.
  • Advocating for high standards in policies, procedures and practices in the areas of human rights, equity and sustainability
  • Ensuring a fair and effective administration of OCAD U’s human rights policies and providing subject matter expertise on the principles of human rights, equity and accessibility and related obligations in the resolution of complaints.

Guiding principles

ODESI is committed to creating a collaborative ecosystem of constituent engagement and participation, and building reciprocal relationships and community collaborations with equity-seeking communities, locally and globally.

While ODESI plays a vitally important leadership and advisory role, the responsibility for human rights, equity and sustainability is shared within the OCAD U community.

Engaging the OCAD U community in collaboration and common purpose in understanding and advancing equity and sustainability is essential and continuous, and OCAD U’s Employment and Educational Equity Committee (EEEC) plays a vital role ensuring progress on OCAD U’s strategic equity and sustainability priorities. 

ODESI will continue to develop practices to increase its accountability and transparency to the OCAD U community, including regular reporting on ODESI activities and on information and issues of importance to the OCAD U community.

What's new

See what our office and campus are doing. Find out more about initiatives, events and recent developments on campus.

Dr. Ian Clarke's Passive Urban Greenhaus is featured in the Council of Universities' Going Green Report. Greenhaus is a research project, led by Dr. Clarke and funded by the Metcalf Foundation, that optimizes passive solar designs that trap heat for longer periods than a traditional greenhouse. This creates opportunities for winter urban agriculture in Toronto and other northern cities with no supplemental heating. In addition to the research being conducted, the passive solar-heated greenhouse prototype will be used to assist with the undergraduate curriculum and to the examine cultural and social significance of food production and food security issues. The prototype is on the roof of the Sharp Centre for Design and is being used to collect data and evaluate performance. It will be used as a basis for an open-source, low production-cost, scalable unit that could be built on existing rooftops, parking pads or alley garage spaces. 

To strengthen ODESI’s capacity to report to the OCAD U community on human rights concerns and complaints and to ensure high standards in the collection and retention of confidential human rights data, ODESI worked with IT Services and York University’s IT Services to fully customize the newly procured OCAD U Human Rights Case Management System. The goal is for ODESI to begin using the new data management system in November 2015.

On August 13, 2015, a Sustainability Working Group attended by 23 members of our community met to develop the Sustainability Committee mandate, to plan for a Fall 2015 Sustainability Forum and to generate a number of new campus initiatives, to be prioritized by the Committee.

Creative Writing Circle

ODESI and the Writing and Learning Centre (WLC) launched a creative writing group for students of colour and Indigenous students. This initiative arose from constituent requests for programming and initiatives designed to meet the needs of racialized students and increased opportunities for mentorship and community building. Facilitated by the WLC’s manager, Carrianne Leung, this co-curricular group seeks to bring voices from the margins and to centre and celebrate a range of narratives in all their complexities. Shameless Magazine, a nationally distributed publication focusing on young women and trans youth, will be supporting the workshops and offering publication opportunities to participants.  

Re-using/repurposing materials

In order to create and support opportunities that advance sustainability through collective and critical reflection, knowledge generation and art and design creation, ODESI, in collaboration with the Learning Zone, the Indigenous Visual Culture Program, Facilities Planning and Management and Studio Management, explored how to reuse and repurpose existing student art projects and materials with our community. ODESI supported students to create mobile reuse bins that will be used to collect and transport materials from the shops and studios to be used in curriculum and by our community.

Click here to see our past news items.

Helpful Contacts

Shamina Chherawala

Programs, Outreach &
Human Rights Advisor

Telephone: 416-977-6000, Ext 3840


Sustainability Coordinator

Telephone: 416-977-6000, Ext 4862

Office location

The Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability initiatives is
located 230 Richmond St. W., Level 6

Mailing address

Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives

OCAD University

100 McCaul St.

Toronto, ON M5T 1W1