About the Global Commons

The Hart House Global Commons is an international dialogue space that connects students participating from multiple global locations to engage in real-time conversations and action about issues that are pressing and pertinent to everyone, regardless of place. We hope you will join us for a unique opportunity to connect across contexts, exchange dialogue and perspectives, and learn from each other—all without leaving your living space!

What students are saying about the Global Commons Design Jam

"... the literal definition of learning made fun!"

"I can clearly see the value of multi-continental collaboration and engagement, particularly in terms of a crisis that is so global."

"I believe that the design thinking process is a great tool for the collaborative projects."

"Collaborating with people from different parts of the world taught me how to collectively solve a problem and make progress towards a common goal."

University students at all levels and global locations are invited to participate in this creative space, where we will work together with community partners on real world design challenges!  University students are invited to work alongside community partners, engaging in a creative space on real world design challenges!


Wicked problems are so big that we cannot imagine addressing them alone. Climate change, for example, has no borders, and disproportionately affects the world’s most marginalized populations. In this light, we have aligned this project around Arturo Escobar’s (Designs for the Pluriverse, 2018) call for future oriented, democratic, and justice-based planning frameworks. Design Thinking and Design Justice offer frameworks and principles for scalable, action-oriented collaboration and ideation, starting at the community level and requiring thoughtful engagement. 

This Design Jam aims to enact these approaches by engaging with community partners to address climate, democracy, and alternative futures challenges at the local level by co-designing democratic, participatory and arts-based initiatives. We further encourage our students and partners to envision the scaleable impact of these actions; from inspiring local communities in other locations to take on certain initiatives, to municipal, national or even transnational policy change protecting ecosystems and people from dire climate risks. 

In Designs for the Pluriverse, Arturo Escobar presents a new vision of design theory and practice aimed at channeling design's world-making capacity toward ways of being and doing that are deeply attuned to justice and the Earth. Noting that most design—from consumer goods and digital technologies to built environments—currently serves capitalist ends, Escobar argues for the development of an “autonomous design” that eschews commercial and modernizing aims in favor of more collaborative and placed-based approaches. Such design attends to questions of environment, experience, and politics while focusing on the production of human experience based on the radical interdependence of all beings.

About the Design Jam

This Design Jam invites university students at all levels to collaborate with community partners on real world design challenges related to climate change. The co-design process participants will experience at this event is community-engaged, requiring on the ground connections with peers, as well as community partners. Our intention with this process is for student teams to produce action-oriented proposals for community partners, based on the needs of those partners and further informed by peer engagement and other forms of design research. We will introduce design frameworks, tools and methods that participants will learn through doing. We will form connections, explore challenging wicked problems, do research, map findings and generate ideas toward real world impact and action.

Schedule & what to expect

Our program runs for five consecutive weeks, with 2.5 hour workshops each Friday from 11:00 am – 1:30 pm EST, from September 29 to October 27, 2023.

In the first week, we will form student teams, which will be facilitated by trained student facilitators. Small global student teams will work together for the duration of the program, forming connections that often continue beyond the design jam. Each team will be matched with a community partner, and the first week offers opportunities to hear from and engage with these partners to dig into and unpack the design challenges they are bringing to the table.

The following weeks involve learning and practicing various methods of design research and synthesis, ultimately leading to the development of action-oriented design proposals and prototypes that can be enacted or built upon by our community partners. The final session is a showcase of these ideas. 

Participants are asked to commit to all five weeks of the program, as supported teamwork is essential to the experience.

Technical Considerations

  • You will need a reliable internet connection to participate in this series (please contact us if you require access support)
  • Please consider attending the event on a laptop or desktop computer, this will offer the best collaborative experience (as opposed to a mobile device or calling in)
  • Please update to the latest version of the Zoom app, if possible
  • This event will be hosted in English
  • Watch this quick video tutorial for an introduction to the digital whiteboard platform MURAL.co (don't worry, we'll teach everyone how to use this during the event)
  • Come with an open mind, and be ready to trust the process! It may feel challenging or “sticky” at times, and might even bring up some difficult emotions. Please take care of yourself, and ask for the support you may need.
  • Please provide your mobile phone number upon registration, as we will use WhatsApp to connect teams to their facilitators.
  • Our events are recorded, please note that you are consenting to video recording that may be used in promotional materials for the Global Classroom. If you would like to participate, but not consent to recording, please contact us and we will accommodate this.


Some university partners are offering co-curricular and/or course credit to students who participate in this series. Event Organizers will provide this information during the series.

Co-Presented by:

Hart House
Global Classroom for Democracy Innovation
University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC)
Vancouver Design Nerds
Cape Town Design Nerds
Stellenbosch University
University West
Michael R. De Angelis & Family Global Innovation Fund

Global NGO Partners

Innovation for Policy Foundation
The Climate Reality Project Canada

Event Metadata

Event Ended

  • Date: Fri, Sep 29, 2023
  • Upcoming Recurrences

    No results found for this timeframe (next 6 months from today).

  • Time & Duration: 11:00 am – 1:30 pm (EST) (2h 30m)
  • Cost:
    • Students


  • Venue: Virtual - Zoom
  • Event Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)