Design thinking for social innovation

Accredited MBA  Course


This practical course teaches students how to design solutions to complex social problems.  Using experiential learning methods that puts affected people at the center of the design process, this multi-discipline course takes students though a design thinking process while imparting concrete development experience and building practical skills for the 21st century.


Design Thinking for Social Innovation is an accredited MBA course is being offered through Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. Course is appropriate for graduate students from all disciplines interested in social entrepreneurship, design, nonprofit management, social business, and international development.  


For: Graduate students from all disciplines 


dates: January 4-19, 2019

Duration: 14 days/15 nights 

CosT: AUD $3900 for course (prices given in Australian dollars)

CREDITS: 3 graduate level credits available through internationally accredited local university - AUD 110 per credit. 

enrollmentlimited to

15 students

Contact: Dr. Ruth Knight:

Design Thinking for Social Innovation is about creating solutions to poverty and other complex social problems. This accredited graduate course takes students through comprehensive user  centered design (aka Human Centered Design) process. It teaches students how to use empathy to understand social customers from their perspective; how to identify social problems and ideate solutions to those problems, then to prototype and test solutions.


Graduate students from Queensland University of Technology work in teams with Indian MBA and engineering students and local social entrepreneurs. These mixed teams add technical depth and cultural texture to the course.  Course takes a multi-discipline approach that includes aspects of business, design, technology, international development, engineering, nonprofit management and entrepreneurship.  Case work, exercises and consulting projects are also experienced through a variety of sectors such as health, education, economic development, community development, water and sanitation, and more. 

Design Thinking for Social Innovation introduces best practice design, innovation, and enterprise theoretical frameworks such as Design Thinking and Human Centered Design. Students test frameworks in the field, along with other academic constructs learned in regular graduate school courses, and then refine them based on the on-the-ground realities they encounter.



In concept development and prototyping sessions students study technical elements of design used by practitioners and consultants such as how to create a concept, craft a theory of change, and build a model for social impact and change.



Student are immersed  in local culture. They learn bout rural life through village homestays and programs integrated with rural colleges. In the city, they live on campus and with Indian students. Students experience Cultural Night at IMT, Pongal festival, cooking class, and local theater and Bollywood dance lessons. 


 thinking for social innovation 

"Underlying all the major problems of the world is a social problem that requires major innovation.

-Aleem Walji, Work Bank Institute for Social Innovation


  • Indo-Australian collaborative course

  • Design Thinking & Human Centered Design HCD) frameworks

  • Multi-disciplinary & cross cultural student teams

  • Primary market research

  •  Social problem analysis

  •  Social innovation  prototyping 

  • Client-driven projects

  • Living cases

  • Interactions with social entrepreneurs & NGO leaders

  • Rural and urban immersion

  • Village homestays

  • Indian University campus life 

  • Career planning 

  • Academic credits* 


Through live cases, field visits, meetings with leading Indian social entrepreneurs, and projects, students examine social enterprise and innovation models, products, processes and scrutinize their ability to create social impact.  They learn to develop market research instruments and conduct field-based primary market research to identify and analyze social problems to which there could be a business solution. 

Throughout the course, students learn about pragmatic and nuanced aspects of designing social solutions that defy contemporary theory and are impossible to teach in a classroom, but are an integral part of social innovation design reality. Expert-led technical workshops, field exercises and consulting projects broach the immense strategic and operational challenges related to designing social impact innovations that work in practice.


Design project



The course culminates in a design consulting project with a social enterprise or nonprofit organization. Student teams work with Indian social entrepreneurs to tackle real questions and challenges using design thinking approach.


In this application exercise, design tools help students innovate products, processes, systems, businesses and services that are needed, accessible and appropriate for social enterprise and nonprofit clients.  Projects grounded in the real-life contexts enable students to factor in infrastructure, market dynamics and the cultural challenges of working at the base of the pyramid.  Student teams receive mentoring and technical back-stopping from Grassroots U faculty, industry experts and advisers.​

Vision Mapping 

Students also "design for life" by exploring their vision for themselves personally and professionally. In doing so, they receive peer and instructor feedback on realizing this vision when they are back at home.  


course work

Assessed course work is doing-oriented, grounded in practice, and project based.  Students: 

  • Develop a social innovation prototype

  • Participate in a design competition with IMT students.

  • Blog about rural immersion experience.

  • Personal "Design for Life" plan to implement lessons at home.

  • Conduct a design consulting assignment with Indian NGO or social enterprise.

  • Present consulting assignment to panel of stakeholders.

Learn technical aspects of creating social impact and development consulting from leading experts.
Tools & Best Practices
Learn state-of-the-art
frameworks, tools and approaches to apply to impact work & social ventures during consulting and at home.
International Development
Gain credible developing country work experience in a given sector. Learn about strategies to affect change. 
Work with local peers on collaborative projects and benefit from multiple and multicultural perspectives. 
Work Experience
Learn how to impart 
knowledge, implement change, support leadership and manage impact projects results.  
Apply your skills and experience to create impact by helping to build capacity of a local impact organization though consulting.
Meet and connect with other like mined  peers and professionals.  Make friends for life and new job contacts. 
New Perspectives
One-on-one coaching to help set personal and professional goals based on experience & make a plan for you will achieve it.

Design thinking consulting

Students work with Indian social entrepreneurs to tackle social innovation design questions and challenges they face. Project vary according to need, and may include: 










What costs are included


  • Professionally led workshops, lectures and training 

  • Site visits to social ventures, nonprofits and feild projects

  • Faculty, subject matter experts and social entrepreneurs

  • Project placement and mentoring support 

  • In-country travel - all transportation including airport pickup and drop off, field visits and excursions 

  • All lodging - guesthouses, hotels, homestays, dorms, etc

  • Meals - all, except 1-2 free nights out

  • Cultural events 

  • All educational materials and supplies

  • Course credits from Institute for Management Technology, an internationally recognized and accredited university and one of India's top tier universities. 

What is  not includeD


  • International airfare to and from India

  • Visas and vaccines

  • Souvenirs, gifts and personal items  

  • 1-2 non-program meals and entertainment on free nights

  • Tourism and travel outside of regular program  

  • Mobile phone/cell charges in India

  • Medical expenses

"Approximately 156,000 students graduate each year with an MBA in the US alone. Imagine if those individuals created or joined businesses to serve the world: becoming leaders by selling solutions to solve the world’s social and environmental problems."

—Joshua Mathis, MBA Student

entrepeneurial india!!

India boasts the perfect alchemy for social entreprepreneurship to thrive. A highly entrepreneurial country, India has world class learning institutions, cutting edge technology, a culture of innovation, and excellent human resource capacity.  Home to the world’s largest middle class, the Indian economy is booming and its legal environment is enabling for social enterprise. The country boasts at once a rich history of social and economic justice, massive intractable poverty and other deeply rooted social problems. 

Kailash Satyarthi, 2014 Nobel Prize winner Founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan and GoodWeave 

Mallika Dutt & sonali khan of breakthrough 

Amitabha Sadangi of IDE India 

Dr. Venkataswamy of Aravind

Neelam Chhiber of Mother Earth

Bunker Roy of Barefoot College

Inderjit Kaurana of Train platform schools

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