Understanding and assessing sustainability perspectives is smart business. Engaging with sustainability issues begins with asking the right questions and achieving a better understanding of the issues from multiple viewpoints to assess the linked social and environmental impacts. The structure of design thinking offers an iterative process that captures people’s insights to inform the design criteria that inspire ideas for feasible solutions. The process examine and probe assumptions about what’s critical for those solutions to successfully address people’s needs and further develop viable innovations. This series provides foundational knowledge on how to utilize the design thinking methodology for reframing problems and generating ideas for solving contextual challenges (in municipalities, communities, organizations) while assessing key sustainability considerations.

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Early Registration: $3,199.00 / Regular: $3,399.00


  • Course 1: Intro to Design Thinking - March 12 & 13, 2021
  • Course 2: Intro to Sustainability Principles - March 26 & 27, 2021
  • Course 3: Applying Design Thinking: Key Considerations for Sustainability Initiatives - April 1 & 2, 2021

Modality: Live, Virtual


After completing this certificate program, you will be able to:

  • Understand how design thinking strategies and tools could be utilized for crafting potential solutions to authentic problems that your organization is facing.
  • Understand the foundational concepts of sustainability, analyze contemporary sustainability issues, and conceptualizing sustainability as a future oriented endeavor.
  • Explore how the design thinking methodology could be used for creating solutions that advance organizational sustainability initiatives and goals as well as global efforts for sustainable development.

Course 1: Introduction to Design Thinking
Date and Length: March 12-13, 2021; 2 consecutive days

Description: Many professionals understand the need for organizations to innovate. However, being tasked with the challenge of innovating in an area of need or opportunity could seem challenging and overwhelming. This introductory course guides participants through the design thinking process as a way for creating and/or improving solutions by analyzing how users interact with technologies, spaces, and people. Through the design thinking iterative process, knowledge is acquired and reframed in ways that help redefine core issues in an attempt to identify relevant and innovative solutions.

Learning Outcomes
After completing this course, participants will:

  • Understand the mindsets and skill-sets to leverage human-centered design
  • Understand each phase of the human-centered design process
  • Be able to utilize techniques for gaining insights from stakeholders and customers and reframing opportunities
  • Practice rapid prototyping to gain insight and communicate value
  • Explore how to integrate design thinking within their team processes for improving ideation outcomes

Course Leader: Dr. Julie Schell, Assistant Dean for Instructional Continuity and Innovation

Course 2: Introduction to Sustainability Principles
Date and Length: March 26-27, 2021; 2 consecutive days

Description: Solving sustainability issues demands foundational understanding of the key concepts that are at play whenever businesses, organizations, and communities engage in activities that impact our communities. This introductory course explores these key concepts and the frameworks and tools that inform effective decision-making in promoting social, economic, and environmental wellbeing.

Learning Outcomes
After completing this course, participants will:

  • Understand the foundational concepts of sustainability, including its origins and critiques
  • Grasp the complexities and ethical considerations of instituting sustainability
  • Develop familiarity with key measurement and reporting tools
  • Analyze contemporary sustainability issues using both metrics and the case study approach

Course Leaders

Course 3: Applying Design Thinking: Key Considerations for Sustainability Initiatives
Date and Length: April 1-2, 2021; 2 consecutive days

Description: Leaders’ sense of urgency and responsibility for creating innovative solutions while assessing economic, social and environmental impact for future generations is becoming a key tenet for strategic success. For organizational leaders, design thinking is an effective tool for energizing organizational transformation and effectiveness. By taking a human-centered perspective as the guiding force for product, service, process, or business model development, they have an opportunity for reframing strategic challenges and developing sustainable innovative solutions. This course provides an opportunity for participants to apply design thinking to sustainable development challenges. In addition, participants will apply design thinking to create solutions for contextual organizational challenges while assessing economic, social, and environmental considerations

Learning Outcomes
After completing this course, participants will:

  • Apply design thinking principles to learn how to increase viability of products/projects while considering social, economic, and environmental impacts
  • Understand how to engage communities for de-risking your sustainable development projects and democratizing product dissemination

Course Leader: Jared Huke, Lecturer in the Center for Integrated Design

a wall covered in color-coded sticky notes from a design workshop with SDCTx

Who should participate? Senior/Executive Leadership, Team Leaders & Supervisors, Managers and Directors, and Project Managersworking in the business, nonprofit, government, education, and/or military sectors. However, professionals at all levels of experience in any sector or industry are welcome to participate. There are no prerequisites for enrolling.

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