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Program Overview

Through Design Climate, students gain the opportunity to build and lead their own triple-bottom line startups that generate positive financial, environmental, and social benefits. First, Co-designers (industry professionals and/or Duke faculty members) identify venture opportunities. Graduate and high-level undergraduate student teams are then guided through the Design Climate process described in the Course Details section below. The goals of this program are to

    1. Train future leaders in design thinking, business fundamentals, and climate competencies using project-based learning

    2. Develop innovations to address climate challenges


Course Details

Design Climate I: Discover (Fall)

The fall semester focuses on developing a business model for a triple bottom line startup idea. To develop the business model, students will be given a climate challenge prompt from a Co-designer (industry professional or a Duke faculty member) will work through the first three phases of the design thinking process: stakeholder empathizing, opportunity definition, and solution ideation. The semester culminates with a mini pitch of the startup business idea and preliminary proof-of-concept prototype that will be further vetted in Design Climate II.


Why take Design Climate I: It’s a fun opportunity to immerse yourself in a climate challenge and come up with an innovative business to address it! 


Design Climate II: Develop (Spring)

In the spring semester, the focus shifts to gathering customer feedback on the triple bottom line startup ideas. Students continue to apply the design thinking framework to prototype, test, and refine their concepts. Students will develop a simple “prototype” to validate with potential customers and layer on financial projections to their business models. By semester’s end, students will have validated their business ideas, culminating in a detailed pitch, video presentation, and working prototype. This process ensures that their ventures are not only innovative but also feasible and impactful.


Why take Design Climate II: See if your startup idea really makes sense and learn more about financial planning and operations for real-world businesses! 

Developing triple-bottom line solutions that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs