Inclusive Innovation: Designing for a Better World

Inclusive Innovation is the process and product of collaborative solution-development. Innovation doesn’t just generate profits—it can also make the world a better place by addressing some of our most pressing development and humanitarian challenges. However, the innovation process is complex and often excludes key stakeholders, intentionally or unintentionally, in how it is practiced.

This short course introduces participants to a basic framework for understanding inclusive innovation and focuses on one of the components of inclusive innovation practiced by MIT D-Lab: the Participatory Design process.  The course will introduce participants to key steps of the participatory design process, simple tools for practicing participatory design with diverse stakeholders, and space for exploring the harder questions and decisions when actually facilitating participatory design in the international development and humanitarian context.  This dynamic short course aims to give professionals a taste of D-Lab’s “secret sauce” for engaging with community partners via a series of real-world case studies, collaborative hands-on activities, deep dive discussions, field trips, and networking events.

This course was designed as a complementary course to Applied Inclusive Business: Scaling Technology in Low-Income Markets, July 20-24, 2020

Earn a Professional Certificate in Innovation and Technology

This course may be taken individually or as a core course for the Professional Certificate Program in Innovation and Technology.

Lead Instructor(s): 

Maria Yang
Amy Smith


Jul 13, 2020 - Jul 17, 2020

Course Length: 

5 Days

Course Fee: 





  • Open
Registration will close by June 15

Participant Takeaways: 

Through this short course, participants will learn:

  • The characteristics of an inclusive innovation process
  • The basic steps of participatory design and the complexity of it in practice
  • How to apply participatory design approaches with healthy humility in the international development and humanitarian context
  • How to recognize and mitigate power dynamics and barriers to participation and inclusion in the innovation process
  • Simple strategies for identifying and meaningfully engaging diverse stakeholders
  • Creative facilitation tools for cultivating participatory design more effectively between diverse stakeholders

Who Should Attend: 

  • Professionals and academics who want to learn from MIT D-Lab’s participatory design approach and learn from others applying it in the international development and humanitarian contexts
  • Professionals who want to build up their toolkit for facilitating collaboration between diverse stakeholders

This course is particularly well suited to professionals working in international development, humanitarian aid, community organizing, or diplomacy, poverty- and hunger-related issues, corporate social responsibility, grantmaking and philanthropy, global health, government service, social entrepreneurship, technology development, STEM education, and higher education.

Attendees often include:

  • Directors and Managers of Partnerships, Strategy, Programs, New Business Development, Training, Research, Outreach and Communications, Monitoring and Evaluation, Product Development, Finance and Operations
  • Engineers
  • Researchers

Program Outline: 

MIT D-Lab faculty, instructors, and program staff bring global perspectives and hands-on experience to this new course, which draws on real-life case studies derived from Participatory Design initiatives around the world. In addition to case studies, sessions will have a mix of research, dynamic scenarios and exercises, field trips, group discussions, co-creative sessions, themed games, and networking opportunities. Because of the emphasis on experiential learning, all sessions have roughly a 1:2 ratio of lectures to hands-on activities.

By meeting with MIT representatives, participants will also learn about opportunities to partner with the MIT D-Lab, the MIT Practical Impact Alliance, and the broader MIT ecosystem on inclusive innovation opportunities.

Course Schedule: 

View 2020 schedule (pdf, subject to change)

This course meets 9:00 am - 5:00 pm on Monday, 9:00 am - 5:30 pm on Tuesday, 9:00 am -5:00 pm Wednesday and Thursday, and 9:00 am - Noon on Friday, followed by a closing lunch. There will be a networking dinner on Tuesday from 5:00-7:00pm.



This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please complete the Custom Programs request form for further details.