The learning at CityStudio is immersive and experiential with a focus on group process, learning and leadership while working with students, faculty members and guests of CityStudio. Students engage in research, field investigations, readings, problem-solving sessions and skills workshops.


Dialogue + Design

Combining the activities of dialogue process and design and strategic thinking, the studio is organized primarily around the activities of project work, from research to implementation.

Dialogue in the classroom allows students to learn how to listen deeply, to challenge their own perspectives and learn how to be effective team members. Dialogue as a practice challenges students to slow down, engage in complex thinking and re-imagine possibilities for change with City staff, instructors and each other.

Design is a change process that turns research and strategic thinking into action; students observe the social context, discover need, define an opportunity, generate ideas, document processes, prototype solutions, test in the wild, present and analyze outcomes, and develop stewardship plans – all towards the goal of implementing a project solution on the ground co-created with CoV staff.

Projects and Course Activities

The course projects are developed by students in concert with city staff and community members. The learning of the course aims to add value to the City of Vancouver and/or a specific community group by contributing directly to Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020 goals.

Mayor Robertson opens CityStudio public exhibition

Projects opportunities are present to students during dialogues and guest visits. Our aim is develop high-impact projects that help the city where they have identified the most need. Experiencing and organizing this real-world process can be among the most transformative educational experiences participants can have, but it is non-linear and dynamic. It requires patience to work with others in defining and implementing a shared goal, and the desire to follow through in ways that will test your assumptions. These skills and attitudes form the basis of the learning outcomes. Students are asked to recognize that the actions of the class and of participants in these relationships have important consequences beyond the classroom. Learning to navigate these unique responsibilities will form an important part of the course and the learning.

A variety of readings, class exercises, individual and group assignments and field investigations are used, and students will interact with other disciplines, conduct dialogue activities, host presentations, public events and facilitate multi-stakeholder processes. Students will conduct the following activities individually, in small groups and as part of the entire class.

  • Research, tours and dialogues with staff from the City of Vancouver and community guests
  • Guest hosting, group facilitation, and participation in course organization.
  • Skills workshops in design and dialogue
  • Interviews, blog posts and written reflections
  • Project definition, proposal and implementation
  • Contribution to and curation of the term-end publication and exhibition