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This 10-week-long Stanford graduate class is an immersive course taught at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design ( Graduate students from across Stanford’s seven schools – Business, Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, Education, Engineering, Humanities and Sciences, Law – apply for admission in a competitive selection process. Once a small cohort is selected, these students are placed into small teams to work on a real-world challenge with an industry partner for a full quarter. Previous class sponsors have included government agencies, technology companies, NGO’s, and start-ups, such as: Google, Ericsson, The New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries, USAID, CreditDo, Mayo Clinic, The City of Miami, E.ON, and Facebook, among others. 


This Stanford course is an advanced project-based innovation class that is meant to equip students both from a methodology and theory perspective to launch an initiative that is designed to scale fast. The class combines theory, process-mindedness, specific tool-sets, and hands-on practice. Each class assignment leads graduate students to create tangible initiatives that an industry partner can implement in the real world. Student teams are trained to reveal new systems or human-level insights; pose questions that expand the understanding of the challenge; and identify new opportunities for project partners. At the end of the course, student teams design a platform and strategy for next-generation systems, and present a final prototype, as well as an executive summary to their industry partner. 

Graduate student teams work closely with their project partner, the instructors, innovation coaches, and external advisors. They learn and apply System Acupuncture the largescale, complex challenges presented by the project partners. They are also challenged to create viable business strategies, social solutions, and environmental outcomes, simultaneously. Previous projects have ranged from planning the waste and energy future for a new town, to designing large-scale distributed electrification for rural India. The class is deliberately offered in the spring, so students who wish to keep working on their projects, can continue to do so with their industry partner during the summer. 


We are continuously looking for partners who… 

  • Seek a fresh approach to complex social and environmental challenges
  • Work at scale or are seeking to scale their impact
  • Have the resources to implement new strategies that emerge from the course
  • Value working collaboratively with motivated, curious Stanford graduate students 

We are continuously looking for projects that… 

  • Strive for ambitious social, environmental, and economic outcomes
  • Affect a large number of people and/or species