• The Designing for Social Innovation and Leadership Course

    The DSIL Course is a globally certified development short course designed for professionals from all sectors who are ready to expand their leadership skills through learning emerging innovation practices. The experiential curriculum consists of interactive 10-day field immersions in Southeast Asia followed by live Virtual Classrooms where you will find yourself building greater capacity to create, think critically, and move ideas into action in highly diverse groups. At the same time, you'll be evolving too- reflecting on who you are as a leader. Join our ecosystem of courageous individuals, thriving start-ups, dedicated social enterprises and progressive for-profit companies solving complex problems in effective ways. After the course, bring all that you have absorbed back to your teams where you work and live to ignite positive impact in your companies and communities.

  • The DSIL Course Curriculum

    The DSIL Course Curriculum components embody the elements we know will lead to the continued development of highly aware individuals who will cast that learning forward for social innovation. Collectively, these individuals will have a more intentional and thoughtful impact on the direction of the world whether that be for the purpose of business, movements, personal development or social change projects. We teach complex problem-solving through the well-researched methods of design thinking and in the field; where theory moves to practice! See more about how design thinking works for Business Innovation and Solution Building for Social Problems!

  • The Short Course has 5 Components.

    + 10 Day Field Immersions

    2017 Field Immersions Offered in Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia

    The field immersions are built to accelerate capacity in innovative practices. We use design thinking, or more simply- complex problem-solving methods- that can be used both personally and professionally. The immersions are created with the communities we have the opportunity to engage and the days are filled with workshops and design sprints solving real challenges. We work in highly diverse teams alongside local partners from academia, grassroots movements, leading social enterprises and entrepreneurial ecosystem drivers. Participants will discover first-hand development and scaling challenges while investigating complexities that need to be considered for an effective design process in any sector. While in Southeast Asia, the experienced DSIL team will intentionally coach you to lean into your own learning edge, to practice creativity, and expose you to a myriad of activities that will help you look inward at your own personal impact. You won't find anything like a traditional academic environment on the DSIL Course- we are all teachers and students in the immersions and we learn by asking questions and experimenting at every turn.

    + Virtual Classroom

    Join from Anywhere - We are Online Worldwide

    The VC comprises a series of live online sessions with thought leaders from around the world who are evolving the discussion and experimentation with new practices at the exciting intersection of business and catalyzing change in the world through other ways. These sessions offer depth and interactive dialog on layered problems, emerging learnings, brave provocations and open sourced data. Every year, the DSIL team chooses sessions that will push the way you see the world and offer wider perspectives. The VC can be taken on its own and is included with field immersion.

    + DSIL Challenges

    We learn by 'doing' and 'doing with' others

    At DSIL, we center are anchored by two things: experiential learning (doing) and learning alongside others (doing with). During the Virtual Classroom and the DSIL Immersions you will be asked to complete a number of hands-on challenges that will facilitate meaningful and heightened self-awareness while practicing different design methodologies in your local context. The DSIL Challenges also offer effective leaderships practices to try in your own company or community. What happens as a result? You will feel increased confidence with your sharpened skills and tools by the end of the course that you will be able to shape them to fit into your life, work, and geographical context.

    + Building Your Network

    The best part of the course are the others around you

    Every year the DSIL evaluations strongly confirm that one of the most valuable assets to the course is the people that you will travel, experiment, and learn beside. DSIL participants are selected for their ability to show bias towards action, radical openness, critical thinking, and a readiness for upward growth. Collectively, we encourage the practice of authenticity to ensure the creation of a highly generative and collaborative community that you will be able to re-create again in any situation after experiencing all the components your group engaged with to make it possible. Throughout the Course you'll have access to peer mentorship and Executive Coaching from our certified team. Through doing, dialogue, discussions, and storytelling you will find other participants, the DSIL team, speakers and organizations you meet along the way becoming a part of your long lasting #dsilstory.

    = Ripple Effect

    Apply What You've Learned and Teach it Forward

    All of our facilitators teach in a 'train the trainer' format so that you take the sharpened skill sets forward to others in your companies and communities. Upon completion of the Virtual Classroom and/or Field Immersion, plus conquering the DSIL Challenges, you will receive the Executive Certificate in 'Practices of Designing Thinking, Innovation and Leadership' from the Centre for Executive Education at the United Nations University for Peace. Our alumni have proven that the course was a launchpad that pushed them towards a new level of awareness and action- generating positive ripples in their lives and in the lives of others.

  • What Skills You will Gain from the DSIL Course

    After leaving the DSIL Course you will have gone through our core curriculum components - in theory and (a lot) of practice! Slide to see more details on each core component.

    You will learn and practice all of these the core components through a design thinking lens.

    • a tactical understanding of design thinking theory and its different modes: Human- Centered Design + Co-creation + Creative Collaboration practices; plus how to apply them in your local context.
    •  the power of insights into problems that come to light- a result of using design methods.
    • the experience of running through 3 design sprints with local social enterprises and co- creating tangible prototypes that will add value to that company or organization.
    • a tool-box to take home of different design activities for any team hailing from the d.school at Stanford University, IDEO, and MIT D-Lab among others!

    Learn how to get things started, how to keep them going, and how to create impact.

    • an understanding of  entrepreneurship essentials and the impact it has when delivered with thoughtful design. 
    • practice on how to navigate and generate Lean Canvas Models that work for your life, idea or profession;  includes the Business Canvas, Social Impact Canvas, and the Lean Model Canvas.
    • an understanding of what social enterprises are doing at the intersection of social action and business, plus the complexities that are arising on the ground from this sector.
    • agility to reframe failures and leverage them to grow your idea, initiative, company or projects inside your company.
    • tools on how to capture insights from your customers or users in the design process for a product, program or business.
    • how to put together and present a powerful pitch!  

    Expand your creative capacity and learn how to build even more powerful teams.

    • an understanding the phases of innovation.
    • a series of tools and creative activities that can be used to spark innovative thinking for your teams and increase play.
    • methodology on how to cultivate a more open spirit that invites in conflict, difference, big thinking, and change allowing for more creativity daily.
    • practice on how to ensure the conditions for effective co-creation and collaboration. 
    • practice in the art of storytelling.
    • insights on how to work on highly diverse teams that are working to solve a problem.

    Design with the communities you are working for and keep the impact of what you are doing at the center.

    • skills + tools on how you might craft holistic resolutions for complex problems that increase the quality of life for people around the world.
    • critical thinking skills on how design may have a direct impact on the lives of people in business and development. 
    • insight on the differences in rural compared to urban context particularly in Southeast Asia as an example.
    • discussions on what the current state of 'sustainable development in Southeast Asia and globally is and the impact it is having. 
    • understanding of the scaling dilemmas and opportunities happening in development + business around the world.

    Explore more about who you are and how much that matters in effective leadership.

    • access to a 360 evaluation to gain insight from your daily interactions and receive feedback on your current leadership practices.
    • a series of self-reflection tools to help you deepen your emotional intelligence and self-confidence so that you may contribute to the world more boldly.
    • insight to a series of highly effective leadership models that will help you explore your own learning edge.
    • One-on-one coaching sessions with our Berkeley Trained Executive Coach to create pathways on how you might want to continue to shape the way you work with, for, and around others.
    • skills of how to restructure organizations and systems through 33 different  Liberating Structure Methods
    • peer mentorship opportunities with the people in your track. This group and its activities will continue to be a support as you move into a revitalized direction after the course.
    • an example of how to create the conditions to lead highly collaborative and agile teams that are able to achieve great heights through authenticity, empathy, conflict.

  • Who Joins the DSIL Course?

    DSIL participants have come from more than 40 countries and work across diverse sectors. Our alumni range from 26 years to well beyond 60. They represent diverse professional pathways including education, finance, international development, sustainable and social business, for-profit, tech, and beyond.

  • Take a Look

    Watch the DSIL Alumni tell their own #DSILstory

    Sawako | Japan

    A College Professor and Local Activist

    Sawako came to learn about innovative solutions in the grassroots.

    Christopher | Austria

    An Entrepreneur and Creative

    Chris came to learn about the practice and theory of design thinking.

    Mansi | India

    An Intrapreneur and Problem Solver

    Mansi came to learn about authentic communication and leadership.


    Where do our Alumni work?

    Corporations, Nonprofits , Entrepreneurs, Designers, Dreamers, and Educators come from around the world.

    Alumni work across sectors sometimes for themselves and often in global companies like IBM, Salesforce, UNICEF, UNDP, Shell, LuLu Lemon, Delft University, Stanford University, United Way, Tipping Point, the Asian Development Bank and Deloitte amongst many others. See their profiles here.

  • We let Alumni speak for themselves!

    111 DSIL Course Alumni from over 45 Countries and counting


    "I feel empowered to use design thinking, not only as a framework but as a perspective or lens I can use day to day. I truly think I approach challenges and problems differently as a result of my experience at DSIL Course, and see opportunities where I normally wouldn't. I've learned about the importance of trusting the process and that ambiguity leads to innovation. I've felt personally fulfilled by meeting so many like-minded, curious, passionate people who are also dedicated to creating a kinder and better world."


    "My job sent me to learn about innovation and I had no idea the level that it would change the way I understood my own leadership as well. I went back to work on fire and that has been contagious for my teams."


    "This was the place I started my business. I had the idea and the Course and all it's tools helped me think through it and bring it into a tangible living thing that has helped me create a income and impact.


    "My daily schedule has changed, my lifestyle has changed. The different lens I was exposed to made a major impact on me and the way I see and interact with the world."

  • Academic Partners and Collaborators

    The DSIL Course is delivered in academic partnership with the CEE and dozens of inspiring organizations, companies and individuals spanning the globe.

    Centre for Executive Education (CEE),

    UN Mandated University for Peace

    The United Nations Mandated University for Peace (UPEACE), based in El Rodeo, Costa Rica, was created by the General Assembly of the United Nations to provide an educational framework for the ensuring a secure and equitable world for humanity and future generations. See The DSIL Course featured in the Annual Report here in our first year.


    DSIL Course Partners and Collaborators


    The DSIL Course is proud supporter of the Sustainable Development Goals.









    'Why the Next Generation of Designers Will Save the World'

    Volume 25, Issue 2, pages 42–46, Summer 2014

    The WHY for Starting DSIL Course by Course Founder Courtney Lawrence​

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