What is this?


Designing for social change is complex work. It requires considering the many stakeholders and factors that could affect outcomes, having deep understanding of people while seeing the bigger picture, gaining clarity and conviction despite incomplete information, and discovering and choosing interventions that have impact, in the multitude of possibilities. Our belief and experience is human-centered design is a powerful methodology and mindset to employ in this work.

The purpose of Designing for Social Systems is to empower leaders and practitioners in the nonprofit, philanthropy, government, and social impact fields to work in more effective, human, and strategic ways. In collaboration with these practitioners, we aim to redesign how this work is done, develop more effective interventions, and advance the sector as a whole.

Learn More

Join our Mailing List

Sign up to receive periodic updates on Designing for Social Systems.

Sign up

Designing for Social Systems 2019 Workshops

We offer two Designing for Social Systems workshops at the d.school: a 4-day and a 6-day experience. Our workshops provide teaching, hands-on coaching, and first-hand practice using design thinking to take on complex social sector challenges. Both programs integrate design thinking and strategic planning, two processes that are critical to a social sector organization’s ability to have impact.

Our workshops are designed and tailored for social sector leaders. We know our attendees are working to create change within complex systems, and their organizations tend to be resource-constrained when tackling these messy challenges. Therefore, our teaching approach guides our participants towards practical application of the mindsets, principles and practices. Both workshops incorporate case studies from the social sector, such as examples from nonprofit organizations, government, social enterprise and philanthropy.

Designing for Social Systems Workshops

Designing for Social Systems: People & Programs
August 27-30, 2019 (4-days)

Designing for Social Systems: People, Programs & Systems
December 8-13, 2019 (6-days)

More Information

Resources and Knowledge

We continue to explore and advance how to effectively use a design approach to social systems challenges, and codify those approaches so a greater audience can benefit from the methodology. Find our resources here.

Read more on how both human-centered and systems-thinking methods fit within an effective design approach, and can work in conjunction to address social challenges in this Stanford Social Innovations Review article by Thomas Both. 


Team Members

Thomas Both

Director, Designing for Social Systems

Nadia Roumani

Senior Designer, Designing for Social Systems


Latest Updates

Designing for Social Systems: Information Session Video Call

Read more

DSS June Workshop Recap

Read more
View All