Interdisciplinary Design Strategy Program (Postgraduate) at the Brookfield Sustainability Institute (G414)

Program Description

Program Overview

The Interdisciplinary Design Strategy program at the Brookfield Sustainability Institute is a global solutions studio focused on identifying, understanding, and developing smart sustainable solutions to help fight climate change.

Full Description

The Interdisciplinary Design Strategy program at the Brookfield Sustainability Institute is a global solutions studio focused on identifying, understanding, and developing smart sustainable solutions to help fight climate change.

Transform The World

The Brookfield Sustainability Institute (BSI) is built on the 20-year legacy of the Institute without Boundaries (IwB), a think tank at George Brown College that fosters collaborative design practices for a better world. This evolution is a response to the vast social, economic, and environmental disruptions caused by the acceleration of climate change which puts sustainability at the core of everything we do.

Each September, a small group of students begins a nine-month graduate certificate program in Interdisciplinary Design Strategy, where they work as a team to research, design, and realize real-world projects in partnership with governments, non-profits, private companies, and George Brown College. 

Cross Boundaries

This program will accept strong candidates representing different fields – for example, an architect, engineer, designer, planner, economist, an artist, a scientist. The program will produce a new breed of designer - one who can articulate possibilities. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, a "synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist."

The goal of the BSI is to foster a new generation of talent with the foresight and skills to think systemically, collaborate, and build sustainably. Through an interdisciplinary learning model, students develop applied research and innovation projects that tackle real-world sustainability challenges alongside community and industry partners.

Learn By Doing

Students will engage in a full range of creative work necessary for interdisciplinary design strategy, from research and writing to design and production, and will learn everything necessary to realize these outcomes:

  • how to ask questions
  • how to listen
  • how to research
  • how to work with images
  • how to engage others
  • how to communicate ideas
  • how to be a leader and allow others to lead
  • how to work with others
  • how to make mistakes
  • how to take risks
  • how to throw away good ideas

Broaden Horizons

Historically, projects at the Institute without Boundaries, now BSI, often involve international travel to collaborate with communities around the world. Some examples of the places we’ve been to include Matapalo (Costa Rica), Lota (Chile), Milan (Italy), Dublin (Ireland), New York City, and Chicago. Students are responsible for some additional travel expenses for projects like these.

Work In Reality

The first project of the Institute, created by the 2003 and 2004 classes, was Massive Change: The Future of Global Design, which resulted in a book and travelling exhibition. 

The World House Project, starting in 2006, was a three-year initiative that looked at housing systems that are globally responsible and locally appropriate. Students and faculty developed housing models for Canada and Costa Rica that are sustainable, intelligent, universal, and affordable.

In September 2009, the Institute embarked on a new project: City Systems. The objective was to explore, dissect and reimagine the complexities of urban life. 

In 2013, the Institute expanded on City Systems with a new five-year initiative: Regional Ecologies, looking at urbanization as a regional phenomenon. 

In 2016–17, the Institute continued its research on Regional Ecologies, focusing on "symbiotic regions" with the challenge to demonstrate how cities can cooperate at a regional scale to better deliver services, attract investment, and create more resilient social and physical infrastructure for living regionally. The partner was Waterfront Toronto.

In 2017–18, the IwB worked with Toronto Global, Neptis Foundation and the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity to rethink the Toronto Region as a unified economic region and catalyst for attracting investment.

From 2018-2022 the IwB focused on the Future Ways of Living, both a research method and a call to action developed to foster anticipatory design. As a research method, it aimed to investigate and visualize the past and present forces shaping society, which inform an understanding of potential futures. As a call to action, it challenged us to imagine and create what ought to be, rather than what exists.

In 2022, the IwB transformed into the Brookfield Sustainability Institute, a global solutions studio focused on identifying, understanding, and developing smart sustainable solutions to help fight climate change. 

The BSI continues to partner with industry leaders and organizations to elevate our education and training programs and prepare students for real-life challenges. As an Institute the BSI is committed to providing paid talent development programs through our participatory learning model.

Join The Movement

For more information, visit

For more information on the legacy of the Institute without Boundaries, please visit

Career & Postgraduate Study Opportunities

Career Options

Graduates from Interdisciplinary Design Strategy at the Institute without Boundaries may find employment in a variety of organizations including:

  • not-for-profits
  • cultural institutions
  • government
  • private corporations
  • private enterprise or consulting service

Our recent graduates have secured employment worldwide in organizations such as Doctors without Borders, Art Gallery of Ontario, IDEO in California, Ministry of Culture (Costa Rica), Frog Design (New York) and Bruce Mau Design.

Educational Pathways

Educational Pathway chart. Starting from Graphic Design Program, Interaction Design and Development, College or University you can enter the Interdisciplinary Design Strategy. After the program you may go on to Design and Strategic Consulting or be a Design Entrepreneur.

Alumni Impact

We are immensely proud of the contributions of our alumni in Toronto and around the globe.
From Michelin-starred restaurants to major construction, entertainment, community and financial organizations, our graduates are truly making an impact across a range of industries.

Latest alumni stories 

“This experience has not only helped me gain new skills and prepared me for my future life, it has also enabled me to be part of creative, innovative and multifaceted projects that I’m proud of.”

Michael Esteras
Ontario College Graduate Certificate

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