A project-based initiative and course aimed at solving complex global problems through design

Design for Social Innovation is a project-based initiative and course where Columbia University students work in teams to solve real-world problems on behalf of social sector clients including nonprofits, social enterprises, and government agencies. Sandra Hoffen ‘87CC and Howard Hoffen ‘85SEAS, have generously underwritten the inaugural two years of Design for Social Innovation where the students work as “intrapreneurs” (entrepreneurs within organizations) on innovation projects, looking at their clients’ organizational or programmatic challenges through the lens of human-centered design.

Design For Social Innovation (DFSI) is a semester-long course where Columbia University students and faculty support social enterprises, nonprofit organizations, and the public sector to address complex, ambiguous global problems through human centered design. The course is open to students from Columbia’s 20 undergraduate and graduate schools via an application and interview process.

  • The 3.0 credit course is a collaboration between the Columbia Entrepreneurship Design Studio and the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

  • Spring 2022 welcomed students from Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, General Studies, Barnard, the Climate School, SIPA, Columbia Business School, Mailman School of Public Health, Teachers College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Professional Studies.

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