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avatar for Dr. Sara Diamond

Dr. Sara Diamond

OCAD University
President & Vice-Chancellor
BeSmart Executive Forum - Panel 6
Insight: Successful future cities will combine a profound commitment to design and values driven solutions. These must combine qualitative tools that engage and mobilize residents and the many other stakeholders in our urban world, and quantitative methods. Data is a critical resource as we manage the complexity of cities. Urban informatics should support the many players in urban planning and service delivery, and allow meaningful responses to possible scenarios. Data tools are equally important for residents and visitors. Data driven design can be applied to every urban challenge. For example, research shows that cultural activities create cohesion, enhance quality of life, reduce isolation and crime, and support retention of families and individuals. For these reasons, successful cities plan and evaluate distributed cultural offerings and expanded public realms by gathering intelligence about diverse communities’ needs, finding means to embed culture and cultural producers in neighbourhoods, and connect transportation planning to cultural hubs. In other data-driven studies, student post-secondary engagement and success has been correlated with access to transportation as well as affordable housing. While these are intuitive relationships, data provides the hard facts to support effective planning and service delivery for commuter student populations.

Dr. Sara Diamond is the President and Vice-Chancellor of OCAD University and holds a PhD in Computing, IT and Engineering, a Masters in Performative New Media Arts and an Honour Bachelors in History and Communications. She founded and led the Banff New Media Institute from 1995 – 2005, establishing summits of artists, designers, scientists and industry, practice based and research workshops, creative co-productions, laboratories and research in new media. Since 20015 she has led OCAD University to retain its traditional strengths in art and design, while transforming the university to become a leader in STEAM+D (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math, Medicine and Design), with capacities in digital media, design research and curriculum. She initiated and funding the Digital Futures Initiative and the Digital Media Research and Innovation Institute; supported OCAD U’s unique research in Inclusive Design and design for health. She collaborated with Indigenous colleagues to develop the Indigenous Visual Culture Program, with correlative prioritization of Indigenous knowledge and culture at OCAD U. In 2018 she received the Inspiring 50 Award for women recognized for the advancement of diversity of STEM fields from the Government of Netherlands and Senate of Canada and the Canada 150 Women Leaders, Champions and Luminaries. She has been awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for Contributions to Canada; appointed to the Order of Ontario and the Royal Canadian Academy of Art; named as Digital Media Pioneer by the GRAND National Centre of Excellence; and as one of Toronto Life's 50 most influential.

Diamond has led or co-led large-scale Canadian and international research networks in data visualization, wearable technologies, mobile technology and content and collaborative systems such as the Mobile Digital Commons Network (MDCN), Am-I-Able, Centre for Information Visualization and Design, and iCity (Visualization theme). She has retained a research and peer reviewed publication practice in history as well as in new media, and arts and design policy, publishing over fifty peer reviewed articles, book chapters and three publications (books/major reports) since 2009. She has supervised seven post-doctoral researchers and over thirty research assistants while president at OCAD University. Diamond has provided many years of service on public boards, advisory committees, task forces and juries. Diamond’s new media art practice began in creative neural network design, visualization, “software art”, collaborative performance and wearable art through the CodeZebra project in the 1990s. Before that time (1982 - 1995) she was an internationally recognized artist in experimental media, video and interdisciplinary art, with major exhibitions such as a solo show at the Vancouver Art Gallery, a retrospective at National Gallery of Canada, Biennale of Sydney, Museum of Modern Art, NYC and broadcasts of her works. She has curated large-scale new media exhibitions around the world.

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Wednesday, June 12

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