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MIT Professional Education

Inclusive Innovation: Designing for A Better World

Next dates

Jul 22—26
5 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 5300
USD 1060 per day




Innovation doesn’t just generate profits—it can also make the world a better place by addressing some of our most pressing humanitarian challenges. This course delves into an evidence-based, innovation-driven, problem-solving approach called Participatory Design.

Pioneered by MIT D-Lab, Participatory Design is a process that engages the individuals who are affected by the challenges and will benefit from the resulting innovation. In this five-day course, nonprofit and corporate leaders will acquire essential frameworks and fundamental tools and learn how to apply them to their own mission.


After this course, participants will be able to:

  • Define inclusive innovation and its components
  • Distinguish between the three types of Participatory Design and the contexts in which each may be most useful
  • Identify which stakeholders should be included in the Participatory Design approach
  • Recognize the power dynamics and barriers that may impact the innovation process
  • Apply tools aimed at facilitating the Participatory Design process among diverse stakeholders
  • Identify and understand the typical outputs and outcomes of the Participatory Design process
  • Optimize the use of Participatory Design practices in day-to-day work as well as in program design and implementation
  • Connect with like-minded organizations who use Participatory Design in their work
  • Discover how to partner with MIT on inclusive innovation opportunities


MIT D-Lab faculty, instructors, and program staff bring global perspectives and hands-on experience to this new course, which draws on real-life case studies derived from Participatory Design initiatives around the world. In addition to case studies, sessions will have a mix of research, dynamic scenarios and exercises, remote lectures from partners around the globe, field trips, group discussions, co-creative sessions, themed games, and networking opportunities. Because of the emphasis on experiential learning, all sessions have roughly a 1:2 ratio of lectures to hands-on activities.

By meeting with MIT representatives, participants will also learn about opportunities to partner with the MIT D-Lab, the MIT Practical Impact Alliance, and the broader MIT ecosystem on inclusive innovation opportunities.

Prior to arriving, participants will be required to do some light reading

Who should attend

This course is particularly well suited to professionals working in international development, community organizing, or diplomacy, poverty- and hunger-related issues, corporate social responsibility, grantmaking and philanthropy, global health, government service, social entrepreneurship, technology development, STEM education, and higher education.

Attendees often include:

  • Directors and Managers of Partnerships, Strategy, Programs, New Business Development, Training, Research, Outreach and Communications, Monitoring and Evaluation, Product Development, Finance and Operations
  • Engineers
  • Researchers


Maria Yang is Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Her work focuses on the process of designing. She served as Director of Design at Reactivity, Inc. She is an ASME Fellow, and the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award and the ASEE Merryfield Award. She earned her SB from MIT, and an MS and PhD from S...
Amy Smith is the Founding Director of MIT D-Lab, an innovative university-based program in international development and a senior lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is also the founder of the International Development Design Summit, co-found...
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