An experiential learning program where students work with clients to solve complex global problems. 


Design For Social Innovation (DFSI) is a project-based initiative where Columbia University students and faculty spend a semester supporting social enterprises and nonprofit organizations to solve complex, ambiguous global problems through human-centered design.

The initiative combines an interdisciplinary cohort of exceptional students, cutting edge research, design thinking, and passionate organizations to deliver a positive impact. The initiative, which is open to undergraduate and graduate students from all of Columbia’s schools, is made possible through a collaboration between Columbia Entrepreneurship’s Design Studio and the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

  • This a 3.0 credit course offered through SIPA and open to cross-registration from all Columbia Schools, including Teachers College and Barnard.
  • A total of 24 students are selected for each cohort via an application and interview process.
  • Students apply for a specific project and work in interdisciplinary groups with their assigned client.

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Where are Columbians making an impact? Dive into our project work.