Glen Hougan appointed to new Sun Life Financial Chair in Design for Health and Aging
May 13, 2010

In the first partnership of its kind with a Canadian visual arts university, Sun Life Financial has established the Sun Life Financial Chair in Design for Health and Aging at NSCAD University.

The $100,000 donation will recognize and support the work of Professor Glen Hougan of the Division of Design, who was appointed as Chair for a two-year term commencing May 1, 2010.

“NSCAD is emerging as a North American leader in the field of research in design for a healthy and aging population,” says David B. Smith, NSCAD University President.  “Sun Life’s generous investment in Professor Hougan’s research underscores the significance of this important work, especially in tackling issues of ageism and promoting user-centred product design for older adults.”

“With the Atlantic Region having the highest proportion of older adults in Canada, NSCAD is the ideal incubator for Professor Hougan’s innovative and timely research.”

“Sun Life Financial supports health initiatives that are proactive and preventive in nature,” said Michel Leduc, Vice-President, Public & Corporate Affairs, Sun Life Financial. “The establishment of this Chair provides us with a unique opportunity to help promote a healthier and safer living environment for our most vulnerable citizens.  We are delighted to be part of this important work that NSCAD University is undertaking.”

Professor Hougan is an industrial/product designer with a background in the area of human factors, cultural ergonomics and design ethnography methods. His current design and research interests include design for an aging population, universal design and ecologically centred design.

Hougan is also principal of Wellspan Research and Design, a research and design company offering product development, evaluation and training in the areas of health and design for an aging population. Hougan’s “Empathy Suit,” which allows the wearer to understand first-hand the physical challenges facing older adults, has been showcased on CBC Radio’s Spark, the PBS series Life: Part Two, and ABC Television’s Good Morning America Health.

"Sun Life's support allows me to explore the role design can play in addressing health issues and the fundamental societal shift associated with an aging population," explains Hougan.

Prior to coming to NSCAD in 2005, Hougan taught in the Industrial and Interaction Design program at Syracuse University.


Glen Hougan helps PBS producer Rick Collier with the "Empathy Suit."