Are You Foe Or Friend?

This piece is part of a Globe and Mail/OCAD University summer months series highlighting design thinking, issues and innovation. Sarah Tranum can be an assistant professor of social innovation design in the design faculty at OCAD University. Alia Weston is an assistant professor of creative and business enterprise in the faculty of liberal arts and sciences, college of interdisciplinary studies, at OCAD University.

They co-lead the minor in entrepreneurship and cultural technology. The precarious economy, the project overall economy, the social overall economy – one is thought as scarce, underpaid, insecure employment as the others indicate self-employed, interconnected, self-directed work. The first term underscores doubt while the others focus on potential opportunities. Different titles, different perspectives on one reality, the existing job market in THE UNITED STATES namely. This is a job market that no longer offers the same expect full-time, long-term employment that it did ago even just a decade. It can offer flexible employment and greater opportunities to work on various projects of one’s own choosing, to even self-direct a lifetime career about creating impactful social change.

Call it what you would, but there is absolutely no doubt the overall economy and our understanding of employment has shifted significantly over the past two decades, and will continue steadily to achieve this because of technology and changes in the global market. A SEISMIC SHIFT: Is Canada’s economy breaking free of its ‘staples trap’?

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However it’s described, people need the soft and hard skills to flourish in this new economy. Progressive education has a critical role in preparing the next generation of workers, but it’s just one single piece. Everybody knows the storyplot: Following the 2007-08 financial meltdown, our economies tanked, companies tightened their careers and belts were eliminated, while technology ahead held trucking. By late 2009, the economy had stabilized and companies began again seeing profits. However the jobs lost and the changes made were fully restored never.

The result has been fewer full-time careers, more part-time and contract work, few benefits. Some understand the need to look and meet up with the new truth forward. In classes at OCAD University, undergraduate design and art students are taught about the historical contexts of work, about the precarious consequences of the fantastic Recession, about the technological revolutions occurring around us. They are encouraged to think about this background and question causes and implications. But what feels like simply a blink to those of us who lived, worked and saw our investments shrink then is old news to most of these young students. Why is this so highly relevant to teach now?

These shifts have shaped the job market they will enter as graduates. The forex market looks very different from the main one their parents got into, and if they are to navigate and succeed, they shall need to understand how it came to be and exactly how it is constantly on the develop. They have to navigate ambiguity, think entrepreneurially and engage in a socially responsible way. These qualities aren’t new, but the competency to create, launch a business or design answers to pressing societal challenges is more critical now than previously.

This is the impetus behind OCAD University’s new entrepreneurship and interpersonal innovation minor. The program is targeted on teaching business and economic concepts through a lens of critical and creative thinking and practice, but it’s rooted in community, ethics and interpersonal responsibility. It is not just market analyses and forces of long-term trends that led to its creation but the students, themselves, who have recognized the connection between their studio room work and the realities of industry. They are requesting entrepreneurship, leadership and social innovation-based classes to participate their education and they are creating opportunities to help expand explore these areas within their university experience through student-led initiatives.

This curriculum includes real-world projects, international community engagement and critical analyses, coupled with hands-on, studio-based work offering our students both depth and breadth across areas of research. The target is to instill the ability to navigate another that is global and digital while also being fluent in local, social realities and in the physicality of materials, processes and techniques of their chosen art and/or design discipline. This combination of theory and practice, macro and micro, is the future of design and artwork education.