Designing Climate Action, an interdisciplinary course on climate change and entrepreneurship taught by PoD faculty Jen van der Meer and Rebecca Silver, challenged students to design and host an open-innovation forum for entrepreneurs, designers, and other experts to collaborate with students to accelerate climate action. Through an iterative and participatory workshop hosted by the Products of Design community, the event brought together over 50 industry leaders and activists to seed endeavors. During the event student teams organized generative brainstorming activities around four key themes: Transportation, Energy, Awareness and Business. Ideas germinated during the event are currently being developed by Products of Design masters students, with the conclusion of the course to align with resolutions determined at the global UN climate change talks taking place in Paris this December.


Participants in the Transport workshop were asked to assume roles as leaders in the transportation industry—whether that meant becoming the head of autonomous vehicles at Google, or the CEO of Uber—and participate in several rounds of "speed dating" with other participants. The speed dating structure succeeded in getting these transportation giants together and participating in one conversation, and spawned several innovative business ideas and partnerships. For example, participants dreamt up business alliances that saw Uber's entire fleet consisting of green, autonomous vehicles provided courtesy of Google and Tesla.


With the help of moderators, the Energy workshop began with participants "brain-draining" their assumptions and beliefs about energy expenditure. Following this generative activity, participants hypothesized what the future of energy would look like in 15 years—physicalizing these hypotheses through collaging front pages and headlines for the New York Times.

Led by master illustrators Jon Lung and Adam Fujita, participants in the Awareness workshop saw their discussion around climate change awareness being sketchnoted in real time onto an ajacent white board. By visualizing the content of their discussion, participants were able to use specific moments of their conversation to delve deeper into the sometimes esoteric topic of awareness. The group was gratified that at the conclusion of the workshop, they were able to see just how much ground they had covered in the short time that that they had.


The Business Workshop centered around finding successful and unsuccessful business practices aimed at reducing our carbon footprint. The participants shared their professional and personal habits through the lens of sustainability, and ideated future solutions. They then split into smaller groups, chose from a curated selection of climate change key words, and created future job titles and descriptions in the form of haikus.

After the conclusion of the four workshops and a brief share-back, groups were reorganized for the final activity of the night. Given timelines that mapped society's progress on climate change until the year 2030, and drawing on the expertise that they had gained in their previous workshops, participants mapped out events that would eventually lead the world to a greener place. Asked to describe both positive and negative events on the timeline, participants considered which events absolutely needed to take place for a better tomorrow, and which needed to be avoided at all costs. Participants and guests then stayed for a reception, and further talk, which went on late into the evening.

Enjoy more snapshots below!