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Upcoming Course

Poster design by Ronnie Dean Harris.

Fall 2021: Semester by the Salish Sea - Explorations in Reciprocity and Care 

Full-time, 15 credits (DIAL 390W, 391W & 392W).
Program dates: September - December 2021.
Applications are now closed.

*Students who have completed credits for DIAL 393 and DIAL 394 are not eligible to participate in the program.*


The Fall 2021 Semester in Dialogue brings together engaged students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to explore our relationship as urban residents with the ocean. This full time 13 week program will dive deep into the ecology, history and political realities of living in a coastal city on the edge of the Salish Sea. We will explore a wide range of issues connected to blue urbanism, sea level rise, coastal development and ocean life. Students will work on a project connected to a local not for profit/local government related to their interests. 

The semester will be an immersive, team learning environment combining interdisciplinary skills with the complexity of collaborating within a group setting. The course combines the processes of dialogue and human centred design. Students will engage with communities and research existing issues in order to design projects to improve the world around them. Students are encouraged to bring an open mind about project scope to the program.  

Students will cultivate the skills necessary to conduct dialogues, public presentations, and multi-stakeholder discussions. The course offers facilitation and dialogue experience, field experiences, reflective writing, on-the-ground training, leadership development, group process, and project management skills.

The course will take place at SFU Harbor Centre Campus Monday thru Friday 9:30-3:30. Boots for walking along the ocean shore required. 

Poster design by Ronnie Dean Harris: artist, performer, researcher and facilitator based in Stō:lo Territory. 

Course Instructors

Janet Moore (she/her) is a Professor of Professional Practice at Simon Fraser University where she co-creates, co-designs and co-teaches in the SFU Semester in Dialogue program. Janet co-founded CityStudio Vancouver in 2011- an innovation hub that connects students with City Hall to co-create, design and launch experiments.

Sarah Hay (she/her) is an interdisciplinary designer, facilitator and educator with an abundance of experience applying human-centred / participatory design methods in support of a healthy and meaningful collective existence. She is the founder and lead designer of Slow & Steady Design (an autonomous strategic design studio); co-director of the Vancouver Design Nerds Society; a sessional instructor and researcher at Emily Carr University; an instructor at Simon Fraser University Lifelong Learning.

Ginger Gosnell-Myers is a Fellow in Decolonization and Urban Indigenous Planning. Ginger is a thought leader and practitioner who brings a deep understanding of urban Indigenous issues, years of practice in bridging Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in developing public policy and a passion for innovating new engagement processes that advance the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Past Course

Summer 2021: Semester in New Times

Full-time, 10 credits (DIAL 390W & 391W).
Program dates: May 12 - June 21, 2021.
Applications are now closed.

*Students who have completed credits for DIAL 393 and DIAL 394 are not eligible to participate in the program.*


We are living through extraordinary times. A global pandemic, climate collapse, and a tremendous civil rights movement are transforming life as we know it. Change is all around us. We are curious about how we may likewise shape, and be shaped by, change. Semester in New Times imagines new frameworks for social transformation. The course is an invitation for students to consider the parallel journey of personal inner work and large-scale social change, to connect meaningfully in a time of isolation, and to think and plan together as a new era emerges.

Semester in New Times is a multidisciplinary offering for students curious about navigating life in multitudes and bridging seemingly disparate worlds in the service of ethical social transformation. 

We will focus our thinking, engagement, and research about social transformation in the following three domains of research practice and community mobilization:

  • Making infrastructures (communities)
  • Building care structures for mental health 
  • Forging social and environmental justice 

These pools of activity will set the context through which students will engage in dialogue-archive and mount projects to form horizons for social transformation in new times.

Course Instructors

Am Johal is excitedly returning to the Semester in Dialogue for the third time! Am works as Director of SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, Co-Director of the Community Engaged Research Initiative and the host of the Below the Radar podcast. He is author of 'Ecological Metapolitics: Badiou and the Anthropocene' (2015) and co-author with Matt Hern and Joe Sacco of 'Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life: A Tar Sands Tale' (2018). He is a board member with 221A, the Indian Summer Festival and the Bloom Group.

Stuart Poyntz is tremendously excited to join the Semester in Dialogue program. Stuart has been involved in media democracy projects and youth arts organizations for more than two decades and is currently, Co-Director of the Community Engaged Research Centre (CERi) at Simon Fraser University and an Associate Professor in the School of Communication. He writes regularly on children’s media cultures, public scholarship and urban youth arts cultures, and he has published four books and written many articles and book chapters for national and international publications. He is also a Dialogue Associate with the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

Jackie Wong is thrilled to teach in the Semester in Dialogue's summer session for the second time. She loves working with students and learning alongside them. She started teaching journalism and writing in post-secondary contexts in 2012 while she was working in journalism and non-profit organizations in the Downtown Eastside and Chinatown communities, through which she has written about housing, drug policy, and racial equity issues. Jackie has spent recent years specializing in delivering facilitation, program design, and editorial services for community organizations, and she now works with SFU's Community Engaged Research Initiative as its Community Strategic Initiatives Associate. She is a dialogue-archive associate with the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue and a board member of SWAN Vancouver.

What will I learn?  

Through the process of engaging with this course, students will:

  • Make meaningful connections between their lived experiences, their academic work, and their professional aspirations.
  • Refine their facilitation and dialogue skills in holding space for, participating in, and convening meaningful, accessible dialogue about complex issues.
  • Become equipped with the tools to effectively plan, produce, and convene a public dialogue.
  • Strengthen their writing skills for a general public audience.
  • Strengthen their research skills, particularly as they pertain to community engaged research.
  • Become more comfortable, effective public speakers.
  • Broaden their leadership skills, as well as their understanding of the diverse ways leadership is embodied and shows up.
  • Refine their engagement in various processes of critical self-reflection that facilitate personal and professional growth. 
  • Make meaningful connections between what they want to do with who they want to be.

Past Course

Spring 2021: Semester in Wicked Problems

Full-time, 15 credits (DIAL 390W, 391W, 392W).
Program dates: January 5 - April 12, 2021.
Applications are now closed.

The world is becoming increasingly complex. Climate change, mass migration, and epidemics of chronic disease are just a few of the wicked problems we will face in the coming decades. The Semester in Wicked Problems (Spring 2021 Semester in Dialogue) will explore some of these problems and many others using dialogue-archive and systems thinking.

Dialogue is intended to be an engaging and inclusive conversation for all participants and is based on an understanding that everyone in the room is coming from a different background, and will have different interests and views. The goal of the Semester in Dialogue is to create a space where views can be expressed and where participants can actively listen to each other and learn something new. Dialogue ultimately provides a space to bring together diverse viewpoints, explore these differences, and work towards understanding them better. Systems thinking recognizes that complex problems are different from simple or complicated problems. Some systems are only simple or complicated, meaning they will be predictable, controllable and designable, e.g. sending a rocket to the moon. Other systems are complex, meaning they are unpredictable, self-organizing and emergent, e.g. raising a child.

The Semester in Wicked Problems will enable exploration of a variety of complex problems, what makes them complex, and how solutions to complex problems need to be quite different from the “tried and true” solutions to complicated problems we’ve come to rely on.

What wicked problem keeps you up at night? 


Dr. Diane T. Finegood is a professor and fellow in the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.  Diane came to the Centre after a five year leave of absence from SFU to serve as President & CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (2012-2016). She has been on faculty at SFU since 1997 in the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology where her research interests included the pathophysiology of obesity and diabetes. More recently after an opportunity to serve as the inaugural scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes (2000-2008) her academic interests have broadened to include population and public health, health policy, knowledge translation and complex adaptive systems. Her passion is to help people understand that complex is not the same as complicated and that different strategies are needed to address wicked problems.

Chris Yakimov is the Associate Director, Digital Community Engagement for the Office of Community Engagement, SFU External Relations. He has worked as a digital strategist in the private, nonprofit and now public sector, and has a BA and MA from UBC in Psychology and Education, respectively. His graduate thesis was a narrative inquiry that explored the power relations brokered by the word “self” in academic, therapeutic, and everyday discourse. He’s heavily influenced by thinkers like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Antonio Damasio, Jaron Lanier, David Krakauer and Judith Butler, and brings an abiding and passionate interest in the roles of emotion, autonomy, language and power within the complex bio-relational system that is “us”. Current interests include: critical deconstructions of individuality and economic systems, blockchain, complexity science, chaos theory, and the under-utilized potential of fiction for knowledge mobilization and pedagogy. Vancouver-born, he loves hockey, photography, cli-fi, homemade omelettes and playing Pandemic: Legacy with his 5-year old daughter.

Ilhan Abdullahi is a Somali-Canadian whose parents’ migration journey brought her to the unceded Coast Salish Lands at a very young age. Stemming from her family’s experience of navigating their new world as newcomers, Ilhan has been passionate in addressing social and health inequities experienced by underserved communities from an intersectional lens. With over 10 years of community-based advocacy, leadership and youth outreach, she‘s eager to continue exploring how grassroots community organizing and the process of decolonization through a systems change lens can lead to the liberation of these communities. She hopes to bring her grounded expertise and knowledge in community engagement, health equity, systems thinking and public health to this course.

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Semester in Dialogue 2016 brochure