Workshop Highlights

The Designing for Social Systems workshop is a six-day intensive learning experience featuring the following:

Human-Centered Systems-Minded Design

You will experience integrating human-centered design and systems thinking methods, and see how they complement each other. Design is action-oriented, deeply human, and experimental. Systems thinking is strategic and holistic. Using them together one can: be enterprising while expending efforts with purpose; reach meaningful human insights in the context of the dynamics of the system; and test ideas in the world quickly with the intent to learn and iterate.

Interactive, experiential learning

Learn via hands-on project work, activities, and interactive lectures that help build your capacity to be more creative, insightful, collaborative, and strategic.

Workshop project challenge

Go beyond the theoretical and put techniques into practice by working in teams on a real project in partnership with a nonprofit organization.

Real-world case studies

Hear from leading innovators, including past fellows and other pioneers in the social sector, who are applying these practices to their work.

“Take-it-home” focus

Understand how to apply these practices to your work when you return home. We will help you scope a human-centered design project, design an experiment, and develop tactics specific to your work.

An Ongoing Exploration

How to design for social systems more effectively is the continuous work of the DSS program. We aim to engage leaders in the sector who want to apply these practices and share their experiences with one another.

We are excited to explore these questions with attendees during and after the workshop:

Where to start when working in a complex multi-stakeholder system? Which “users” to focus on first?

How to decide what to build after uncovering multiple opportunities that all seem viable?

How to integrate insights into a program strategy or organization, and act on them?

How best to conduct ethnographic research and prototype ethically, without raising expectations or harming the trust you have built, especially with disaffected communities?

How to get funders, superiors, and colleagues to support human-centered design work, given the process is non-linear, can be messy, and the outcomes are uncertain?

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