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Design Climate Courses

Design Climate is the first part of the two-part project-based Design Climate sequence where students develop innovations in sustainability using Design Thinking. Design Climate provides a unique opportunity for graduate students (and high-level undergraduates) to develop capabilities in Design Thinking and sustainable product development. These skills will be utilized by developing novel, industry relevant products, services, or new ventures that address the climate challenge. The goal of venture development ensures commercial relevancy and provides a valuable educational experience that demonstrates business acumen and sustainable product development skills to future employers and corporate collaborators regardless of the venture’s commercial success.  

Design Climate I: Discovery (Fall)

Discovery is about climate needs finding and developing solution specifications through minimum viable testing. Student teams will be paired with a subject matter expert co-designer (industry partner or Duke faculty/staff) and begin the new venture/product development process by utilizing Design Thinking concepts. There may be some off-campus site visits required as part of this needs finding. If transportation is required, students will be reimbursed for travel expenses.  

Design Thinking phases with a circle around phases empathize, define, ideate, and prototype

Students will also be taught the fundamentals of sustainability design concepts such as life cycle analysis, systems thinking, and environmental justice. The course will be highly interactive and contain a mix of group project work, short lectures, asynchronous modules, and class discussion.

Design Climate II: Develop (Spring)

Develop picks up with the Discovery courses ended by implementing the minimum viable test plan that was developed in Design Climate I. Based on the results from the minimum viable test, students will likely revisit the prototype and/or ideate phase as they strive to develop the optimal innovative climate solution. The semester will culminate with demonstrations of their final prototype and recommendations for moving forward.

Design Thinking phases with arrows cycling back from the test phase to the ideate and prototype phases

Beyond the Classroom

The penultimate goal of the Design Climate program is to develop novel, industry relevant products, services, or new ventures that address the climate challenge. This will likely require additional time, effort, and resources beyond those provided by the course. The Design Climate program is coordinating with the broader Duke and regional entrepreneurial ecosystem to help advance promising sustainable innovation into the market. Students will have the opportunity to apply for summer funding to progress their project idea and will be introduced to mentors to advance their business case.