Design for Social Value: Frameworks

Faculty: Jennifer Rittner

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The way we think about and understand value creation has largely been driven by financial measures of success. But what if value was also measured in terms of social and ecological outputs? Today, social and ecological concerns have largely been ceded to governments and non-profits while business focuses on financial outputs. This course proposes a new model: one in which companies, governments, and non-profits all need to create news kinds of value in order to thrive in a changing economy. Products of Social Value will challenge our concepts of business success, social innovation, and the role of the designer. Students will work directly with institutional and business partners to identify, design, and evaluate new types of value.



The goal of this course is to equip students with the theory, methodology, and tactics to create and sustain new kinds of value for organizations and businesses.



Design for Social Value: Frameworks is rooted in a ‘learning by doing’ methodology. Student teams will work directly with organizations to develop products or services that create new value. A series of guest lectures in the fields of economics, positive psychology, and corporate social responsibility among others will provide students with further opportunities to learn from and work directly with thought leaders in the space.



Students will be equipped to:

  • Use the course methodology to discover, design, and scale new kinds of value in organizations and communities 
  • Understand and respond to the real constraints of working in and with an organization 
  • Leverage best practices from community organizing to create lasting change in organizations
  • Create meaningful, data-based metrics for evaluating success
  • Design, present, and in some cases prototype and pilot solutions with partners



Deep Economy, Bill Mckibben

Buddhist Economics, E.F. Shumacher

What Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth, Wendell Berry

Flourish, A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, Martin Seligman

Creating Shared Value, Michael Porter and Mark Kramer

The Power of Positive Deviance, Richard Pascale

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail, John P. Kotter

Telling Your Public Story: Self, Us, Now, Marshall Ganz