The Institute of Design at Stanford created a utopian design programme where designers, industry partners and students from all academic disciplines and education come together. D.School is a hub for innovators from all backgrounds who ‘take on the world’s messy problems together’.
The programme itself does not lead to degrees. Instead, it offers courses and workshops to students of all graduate programmes. It enables students of engineering, arts, medicine, education, law and social sciences to take classes together and work on projects. By providing courses, workshops and pop-up classes, the programme creates a process for producing creative solutions to complex challenges.
D.School’s programme is based on the concept of design thinking. The focus is on the process of problem solving to achieve extraordinary results for any case. It is not just about solving the problem itself, but starts with defining the problem and aims for durable and sustainable results. D.school partners with corporate, non-profit and government-sector organizations to develop projects in the ‘real world’. Students are challenged to focus on people instead of computers: observe people, determine their messy problems, think about all possible solutions, prototype, test, iterate, implement.
Some examples of successful projects from d.school: Embrace is a low-cost miniature pouch, not unlike a sleeping bag, that prevents newborns from developing hypothermia. D.Light is a solar lantern for customers without access to reliable power in the developing world.
Apart from physical products, d.school’s K12 Lab and IDEO’s Design for Learning practice – the design firm founded by one of d.school’s founders David Kelly – published a Design Thinking For Educators Toolkit. This toolkit allows educators all over the world to apply design thinking in their curriculum. You can track its use on this world map that indicates all schools and programmes using the toolkit at the moment.
Interested in more? David Kelley, one of the school’s founders, spoke at TED on “How to Build Your Creative Confidence”.