About us

The d.school helps people develop their creative abilities. It’s a place, a community, and a mindset.

What we do

About What We Do.jpg
Our Point of View

We believe everyone has the capacity to be creative.

Putting design to work

We build on methods from across the field of design to create learning experiences that help people unlock their creative potential and apply it to the world.

Design can be applied to all kinds of problems. But, just like humans, problems are often messy and complex—and need to be tackled with some serious creative thinking. That’s where our approach comes in. Adding the d.school's tools and methods to a person's skill set often results in a striking transformation. Newfound creative confidence changes how people think about themselves and their ability to have impact in the world.

How we do it

Unleashing Creativity

Here’s what that looks like at the d.school 

Our way of working

Radical collaboration. To inspire creative thinking, we bring together students, faculty, and practitioners from all disciplines, perspectives, and backgrounds—when we say radical, we mean it! Different points of view are key in pushing students to advance their own design practice. Our methods become a shared language for groups to navigate the ups and downs of messy challenges.

Real-world projects. Students want to make real impact in the world. We think they can start immediately. Our classes challenge them to tackle problems that are happening right now, not the ones from a textbook page. We work with partners from non-profit, corporate, and government organizations to develop projects that address real-world challenges.

Unbounded problems. Like in life, there is no single right answer in a d.school class. The problems are complex and ambiguous. The solutions are uncertain and unclear. We give students ample opportunities to experiment, take creative risks, and fail. It's great preparation for real-world problem solving—because it is real-world problem solving.

100% opt-in culture. The people who are here want to be here. No student or faculty member at Stanford is required to participate.

Use our tools Explore Our Resources
About us
8 core abilities

Navigate Ambiguity

This is the ability to recognize and persist in the discomfort of not knowing, and develop tactics to overcome ambiguity when needed.

Design is loaded with uncertainty. As a result, it involves being  present in the moment, re-framing problems, and finding patterns in information. Ambiguity can arise in many places – within a project, a process, or within oneself. It’s important to put students in ambiguous situations and give them tactics to emerge from them.

Learn from Others (People and Contexts)

This means empathizing  with and embracing diverse viewpoints , testing new ideas with others, and observing and learning from unfamiliar contexts.

Throughout a design project, it’s important to recognize and take the opportunity to learn from others–both end users and other stakeholders and team members. There is a sensitivity to others that develops with this ability.

Synthesize Information

This is the ability to make sense of information and find insight and opportunity within.

Data comes from multiple places and has many different forms, both qualitative and quantitative. This ability requires skills in developing frameworks, maps, and abductive thinking. Synthesis is hard for new students. It takes time and is interdependent with navigating ambiguity.

Experiment Rapidly

This ability is about being able to quickly generate ideas – whether written, drawn, or built.

In order to rapidly experiment, you must be able to relax your mind and reach a mode of acceptance. This will eliminate the natural tendency to block ideas that seem off or unfeasible. Then, let your doing lead your thinking – and lead with your hands. This ability pairs naturally with Learn From Others. In many instances, you are experimenting by both generating a flood of new concepts at low resolution (brainstorming) and testing some of those concepts with potential users.

Move Between Concrete and Abstract

This ability involves understanding stakeholders and purpose in order to define the product or service’s features.

Everything is connected. When students are building out a new concept –whether a product, service, or experience – they need to be able to nest the concept within the larger ecosystem that relates to it. We have Ray and Charles Eames to thank for helping us set the scene for this ability. It involves abstraction to define meaning, goals, and principles, as well as precision to define details and features.

Build and Craft Intentionally

This ability is about thoughtful construction: showing work at the most appropriate level of resolution for the audience and feedback desired.

There are many sub-disciplines of design, each with their own set of tools and techniques. This ability requires a sensitivity to the tools needed to create meaningful work in your domain. UX designers have a specific set of tools to create human-centered digital interfaces. Architects have an arsenal of particular techniques to bring new structures into the world. Every discipline – immunology, macroeconomics, K12 education, whatever it may be – has its own building methods, and in every case, the details matter.

Communicate Deliberately

This is the ability to form, capture, and relate stories, ideas, concepts, reflections, and learnings to the appropriate audiences.

Communication happens in a variety of contexts. It may include reflecting on your performance to a project team or crafting a video to show your product to a potential investor. As we practice experiential learning at the d.school, communication and storytelling are paramount.

Design your Design Work

This meta ability is about recognizing a project as a design problem and then deciding on the people, tools, techniques, and processes needed to tackle it.

This ability develops with practice. We see it emerge in our more experienced students. It requires using intuition, adapting old tools to new contexts, and developing original techniques to meet the challenge at hand.

Our impact

About Our Impact.jpg
Our work in the world

The d.school’s impact can be seen in a variety of ways: within students themselves, on the Stanford campus, in the education system, and in the world at large.

Examples of change Read More

A band of creative individuals makes this place possible.

About us

The home team

Get to know us

Meet our community of educators, designers & creative thinkers.

Looking for someone?

Our team members are featured in various places throughout the site. Here's how to find us.

Program Teams - Find us by program.
Teaching Teams - See the classes we're currently offering.
Faculty - Professors from across campus collaborate here.
Home Team - We're the folks who keep the hearth fire lit. Find us below.

For a full list, see our directory.

Thomas Both

Director, Designing for Social Systems

Bruce Boyd

Director of Technology

Leticia Britos-Cavagnaro

Co-director, University Innovation Fellows Program & Adjunct Professor

Charlotte Burgess-Auburn

Director of Community

Carissa Carter

Director of Teaching & Learning

Vicky Chung

Communications Manager 

Vivian Dang


Scott Doorley

Creative Director

Humera Fasihuddin

Co-Director, University Innovation Fellows Program

Justin Ferrell

Outreach & Partnerships

Nadia Gathers

Program Manager, Publications

Stacey Gray

Chief of Staff

Sarah Stein Greenberg

Executive Director

Sarah Holcomb

Head of Brand & Experience Design, Executive Education

David Kelley

Faculty Director

Kim Kendall-Humphreys

Director of Finance

Perry Klebahn

Director, Executive Education

Lupe Makasyuk

Program Manager, University Innovation Fellows program

Laura McBain

K12 Lab Director of Community and Implementation

Louie Montoya

Designer in Residence, K12 Lab Network

Laurie Moore

Communications Director, University Innovation Fellows Program

Ariel Raz

Learning Experience Designer, K12 Lab Network

Hannah Joy Root

Community Manager

Bernie Roth

Academic Director

Nadia Roumani

Senior Designer, Designing for Social Systems

Kelly Schmutte

Curriculum Designer + Special Projects Lead

Kathryn Segovia

Head of Learning Experience Design, Executive Education

Sam Seidel

Director of K12 Strategy + Research

Megan Stariha

Program Manager, Teaching & Learning

Debbe Stern

Public Relations

Amanda Tiet

Community Coordinator

Jeremy Utley

Director, Executive Education

Chitra Venugopal

Accounting Manager

Devon Young

Program Manager, K12 Lab Network

Seamus Yu Harte

Experience and Curriculum Designer, Teaching + Learning

How to start a d.school

10 key ingredients

People often ask us how to start a “d.school.” The real answer is, there’s no foolproof recipe. Every context has its own contours. Every culture has its own quirks. What we can share is how the Stanford d.school came to be.

Curious how the d.school began? Learn More