• The Designing for Social Innovation and Leadership Course

    The DSIL Course is a globally certified executive course designed for leaders who work across sectors who are looking to expand their skills in design thinking. Our experiential curriculum consists of 10-day field immersions in Southeast Asia where you will engage in a series of design sprints with social enterprises who are working in innovation. Real people. Real challenges. Real learning.

    Your class will continue to remain connected after the immersion by engaging in live Virtual Classroom sessions led by global thought leaders in workshops that will continue to push you to grow and expand.


    You will find yourself building a greater capacity to think openly and creatively, to communicate purposefully, and execute ideas within highly diverse groups of people. You will evolve personally too after working one-on-one with executive coaches to break through the barriers that have held you back while connecting and building a powerful support network with the others you meet there.

  • Why in Southeast Asia?

    Southeast Asia is not only beautiful, it is booming with innovation, brains, and creativity leaving many experts to learn from throughout the 10 days.

  • Skills You Will Gain

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


    We believe that Social Innovation emerges when people cultivate skills in the the Four Components of our DSIL Curriculum: Design Thinking, Entrepreneurial Mindset, Inclusive Development, and Conscious Leadership

    You will learn and practice the design thinking mindset and process through the lens of co-creation in a global context

    •Tactical understanding of design thinking theory and variations of it in practice: Human-Centered Design + Co-Creation + Creative Collaboration; plus how to apply these practices in your local contexts
    •Experience running through 3 design sprints with local social enterprises and co-creating tangible prototypes that will add value to partner companies and organizations
    •A ​tool-box to take home of different design activities for any team hailing from the d.schools at Stanford University, IDEO, and MIT D-Lab among others!

    Learn how to get ideas and projects started, keep them going, and create impact

    •An understanding of entrepreneurial essentials via thoughtful design and an understanding of the phases of innovation
    •Navigating and generating Lean Canvas Models that work for your business idea or profession, including the Business Canvas, Social Impact Canvas, and the Lean Model Canvas or NGO Canvas
    •A close look at the work social enterprises are doing between the intersection of social action and business, as well as the complexities that arise within this sector
    •The skills to reframe failures and leverage them to grow your idea, initiative, company, or project inside your company
    •Tools 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 with storytelling

    Design with the communities you are working for and keep social impact at the center

    •Skills and tools on how to craft holistic resolutions for complex problems that increase the quality of life for people around the world
    •Critical thinking skills on how design can have a direct impact on the lives of people in business and development
    •Insights into the differences in rural versus urban contexts, particularly in Southeast Asia
    •Lead discussions on what the current state of 'sustainable development’ is in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world

    Explore more about who you are and how that matters in regards to effective leadership

    -a 360 evaluation on your daily professional and personal interactions and assess feedback to improve current leadership practices
    -a series of self-reflection tools and highly effective leadership models to deepen your emotional intelligence and to expand self-confidence
    -One-on-one coaching sessions with our Berkeley Trained Executive Coach
    -restructure organizations and systems through 33 different Liberating Structure Methods
    -create the conditions that lead to highly collaborative and agile teams, able to achieve great heights through authenticity, empathy, conflict
    -methodologies to cultivate a more open team spirit that embraces conflict, diversity, and change on teams that are working to solve complex problems
    -practice in the art of storytelling

  • The DSIL Short Course has 5 Components

    + 10 Day Field Immersions

    2017 Field Immersions Offered in Thailand and Cambodia

    The Field Immersions are built to accelerate capacity in innovative practices. We use design thinking, or complex problem-solving methods, that can be used both professionally and personally. The immersions are created in collaboration with local communities and filled with workshops and design sprints to solve real challenges that social enterprises face. We work in highly diverse teams alongside partners from academia, grassroots movements, social enterprises, and entrepreneurial ecosystems. Participants will learn to factor in cultural contexts and scaling challenges that need to be considered for an effective design process. While in Southeast Asia, the experienced DSIL team will coach you to lean into your individual learning edges and practice creativity while exposing you to a myriad of innovative projects and organizations all in an effort to help you understand what it means to create social impact. You will not find anything like a traditional academic environment on the DSIL Course. We are all teachers and students in the immersions and we learn by questioning, reflecting, and experimenting at every turn.

    + Virtual Classroom

    Live Sessions Available Worldwide

    The Virtual Classroom is comprised of a series of live, online sessions with thought leaders from around the world who are evolving the discussion and experimentation around novel practices at the exciting intersection of business and social change. The sessions offer depth and interactive dialogue with practitioners on layered problems, emerging practices, and brave provocations. Every year, the DSIL team brings on speakers that are pushing the edges of their fields to offer wide perspectives in the classroom.

    + 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. See our full Impact Report to learn more!

  • Who Joins the DSIL Course?

    DSIL participants have traveled from 45+ countries. Our alumni age range is 26 to 60 years old. Participants represent diverse professional pathways including education, finance, international development, sustainable and social business, for-profit, tech, and beyond.


    Alumni work across sectors. Some are entrepreneurs, others work for global companies such as IBM, Salesforce, UNICEF, UNDP, Shell, LuLu Lemon, Delft University, Stanford University, United Way, Tipping Point, the Asian Development Bank and Deloitte, among others. See their alumni profiles.

  • 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.

  • Alumni speak for themselves!

    130 + DSIL Course Alumni from over 45 countries and counting!


    "The course took me through a through a life changing experience, connecting with my inner fears, learning to love myself more and immersing into such a deep community which I have never experienced before. The DSIL Course taught me much more than d.thinking. They taught me how to become a more resilient and vulnerable leader and to re-connect with my dreams for this crazy and beautiful planet. "

    - Hanna Ruddies, Impact Hub


    "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 to ensure a secure and equitable world for humanity and future generations. See the DSIL Course featured in their Annual Report.

    DSIL Course Partners and Collaborators

    The DSIL Course is a proud supporter of the UN Sustainable Development Goals









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

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

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

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