Postgraduate Certificate in IDS

“The greatest thing about the IwB is that is doesn’t tell you what to look for but how to look.”

– Thomas Lommée, Alumni from World House Project, Year 1

Interdisciplinary Design Strategy Postgraduate Certificate

The Institute without Boundaries (IwB) has a nine-month intensive postgraduate certificate program called Interdisciplinary Design Strategy (IDS) offered through the School of Design, at George Brown College in Toronto. The program teaches design strategy, research, and collaboration to students from diverse professional and academic backgrounds.

In the IDS program, students and faculty collaborate with a partner organization to understand and tackle real-world challenges. Guided by the demands of a major project partner, students learn skills, conduct research, create comprehensive proposals and present their work to stakeholders and the public. The IDS program runs in tandem with the IwB’s research, special projects, and consulting work thereby giving students and partnering organizations the opportunity to learn from one another.


Students experience the demands of a real project and develop the intellectual and creative rigour required to tackle it.



Teaching & Learning Methodology

The IDS program changes theme from year to year, paralleling the arc of the Institute’s major research concerns. Our curriculum is composed of core courses, modules, research trips, and hands-on work with our partners. The curriculum is tailored to the students’ learning needs, the major project research objectives, and the partner organization’s goals.

The Institute has pioneered a graduate-level curriculum using a design-based education model that fosters learning across disciplines, integrating specialized knowledge, and breaking down geographic, cultural, and social barriers.

Throughout the semester, students engage in a process of research, analysis, conceptualization, proposition, visualization, experimentation, testing, revision, and presentation of their ideas and projects. The Institute also hosts lectures, seminars, workshops, and intensive learning sessions from industry leaders. This process combines apprenticeship with classroom and studio-based education, forming a unique pedagogical approach.

The IDS program is very demanding and provides a myriad of critical thinking and hard skills. Graduates of the IDS program receive a postgraduate certificate in Interdisciplinary Design Strategy. The IwB’s design education prepares students for a variety of jobs at a strategic level across industries, in the private, public, and not for profit sectors. Our graduates can also be found in top design offices internationally.


In 2013, the IwB launched the Regional Ecologies Project, a five-year research plan to examine complex networks and interconnected systems of innovation that define our regions. The goal is to study how to design intelligent and balanced solutions that will foster prosperous, livable and resilient regions.

In 2013-14, the Institute ran year one of Regional Ecologies called Gateway Cities. This project investigated the future development and competitiveness within the Toronto, New York City, and Chicago regions. We examined the resilience of the three cities by delivering a model for a smart region.

Connecting Divided Places was year two of Regional Ecologies. In 2014-15, the IDS students looked at the social, economic, environmental, and cultural divisions in Chicago, Eastpointe (Detroit), and Toronto. The goals of the project were to locate and generate connective tissues in these cities, using design that forges linkages that cross political, class, race, economic, communication, and environmental divisions.

In the third year of Regional Ecologies, the IDS students studied Interstitial Zones. Building a definition of ‘interstitial’ as spaces ‘in-between’ and potential future areas of influence and vitality, the students set out to understand the unique context of County Kerry, in southwestern Ireland. The project focused on promoting sustainable economic development in the County Kerry and re-thinking in-between places as active and balanced social and economic areas with a redefined role in a globalized economy.

In 2016-17, the IwB is exploring Symbiotic Regions, by looking at synergies and connections between the different cities of the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH). The key to this project is looking at the human experience of living across the region, and comparing it to the municipal frameworks that are currently operational.

We have an exciting year ahead. Stay tuned for our project work! 

For more information, see our course outline and sample curriculum book or contact us.

MA Interdisciplinary Design Strategies @ IADT

ANNOUNCING Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Design Strategies!

The Institute without Boundaries is pleased to announce a partnership with the Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dún Laoghaire (IADT) in Ireland to offer a Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Design Strategies–the first cohort to begin in Fall 2017!

IwB alumni and students who have successfully completed the Interdisciplinary Design Strategy Post-Graduate Certificate through the School of Design at George Brown College, may now apply for advanced entry into this unique master’s program at IADT.

Click here for more information.

Interdisciplinary Design Strategy Courses

The IwB curriculum is delivered in a studio environment where students work on real projects. The nine-month school year is broken into two semesters: Fall (September-December) and Spring (January-June). The program is a combination of short and long-term projects as well as several courses that connect and overlap throughout the year. Below is a list of our courses. For course descriptions see the sample curriculum book below.


DESN 4003 Design Project, Communication Design
DESN 4004 Design Project: Product
DESN 4005 Design Project: Environment
DESN 4006 Design Project: Systems & Services
DESN 4007 Design Issues, History and Theory
DESN 4008 Integrated Design Process I
DESN 4009 Design Charrette I
DESN 4010 Major Project: Preparation



DESN 4021 Major Project: Development
DESN 4022 Major Project: Communications
DESN 4024 Design Charrette II
DESN 4025 Integrated Design Process II
DESN 4026 Work Experience Placement

IwB Student Learning Outcomes

The IwB is an interdisciplinary and hands-on learning environment where the design process is of equal importance to the final design results. It is expected that students will collaborate with faculty, mentors and advisors to continuously evolve and improve their design ideas and products through a process of research, analysis, ideation, visualization, testing, reiteration, and self-evaluation. For a detailed account of IwB student learning outcomes, benefits, and evaluation procedures see the sample curriculum book below.

Students will:

    • Contribute to a multi-disciplinary studio environment where faculty, mentors and advisors collaborate to conceptualize, visualize, design and learn from each other.
    • Work on real-world challenges that have the potential for global benefits.
    • Share findings with the public and IwB partners in a meaningful way.
    • Learn through participation in every aspect of a project, assuming a variety of roles.
    • Attend lectures, seminars and workshops from industry leaders that augment overall knowledge and skills.
    • Receive critical feedback, appraisal, direction and support from faculty, peers and mentors on project deliverables to augment the self-evaluation process.
    • Practice a “think and do” research approach, applying primary and secondary applied research methodologies to the design process.
    • Follow best practices of a professional design studio using design strategy, design briefs, design management and project management tools.


2016 Summer Institute at IwB


“Discover the Latest Tools and Ideas from Leading Practitioners & Design Thinkers”

The IwB Summer Institute courses are non-credit and offered to students, graduates, designers and other professionals during daytime in the months of June, July and August 2016. These courses can be undertaken without any admission requirements and are held at different locations of George Brown College campuses in downtown Toronto.

 Visit our website to explore. Registration is now open!

JUNE 2016
future culture
DESN1170 Holistic Design Praxis: Principles & Practices
professional practice
DESN1172 Introduction to User Experience Strategy & Design
design thinking
DESN1173 Strategic Design Research
DESN1180 Entrepreneurial Design
maker economies
DESN1176 Introduction to 3D Printing
media innovation
MFND110 Video Creation-From Scratch to Finish

JULY 2016
professional practice
DESN1171 Social Media Strategy & Marketing for Fashion Industry
design thinking
DESN1181 Design Thinking for Leaders
maker economies
DESN1176 Introduction to 3D Printing

professional practice
DESN1182 Introduction to Design Vision
design thinking
DESN1179 Strategic Foresight for Business Design
DESN1180 Entrepreneurial Design
maker economies
DESN1174 Collection Development Through Conscious Design
DESN1175 Introduction to the Internet of Everything (IoE)
DESN1176 Introduction to 3D Printing

Summer Schools Abroad

The IwB frequently partners with other educational institutions around the world to run summer school programs and charrettes. Past summer schools have included the Belgian Summer School, in partnership with REcentre, and the Startup Startup City, organized in partnership with the Dublin City Council. And most recently the 2016 Future Ways of Living Summer School.

IwB summer programming is a great opportunity for both students and design professionals to engage in short term hands-on projects using IwB methods.

Contact us if you’re interested in being a charrette participant or if you would like to hire us to run a charrette for you during the summer months.

To apply to the IwB, please click here.

In addition to the academic division, the IwB also has a special projects division.

To find out more about the IwB please visit our FAQ or contact us.