Innovation & Design for Global Grand Challenges Online Course

Innovation & Design for Global Grand Challenges Online Course

Want to Change the World? There’s a MOOC for That.

Emerging pandemic diseases like Ebola and Zika, the sixth extinction, and food insecurity: these are some of the most daunting issues facing the world today. A new open online course wants to empower people around the world to overcome these grand challenges in new and innovative ways.

“Innovation and Design for Global Grand Challenges,” a MOOC by Duke University, aims to teach individuals around the globe how to address the world’s biggest challenges in conservation and development using the latest innovations in technology, business, and behavioral science, and create new companies to address them. The course is taught by Alex Dehgan.  Alex is the former Chief Scientist at USAID and the co-founder of its DARPA for development, the US Global Development Lab, as well as the Chanler Innovator in Residence at Duke University, founder of the startup Conservation X Labs, and part of the team that created Afghanistan’s first national park.

Dehgan uses this background to help students in the course challenge assumptions about solving grand challenges, harnessing exponential technologies and open innovation, and teaches principles of design and engineering unique to the developing world. He is joined by more than 20 global leaders, social entrepreneurs, and innovators from organizations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, X Prize, Indiegogo, USAID, Planet Labs, Design Revolution, World Wildlife Fund, Freeland, and National Geographic.

From crowdfunding to using technologies like remote sensors and 3D printing, the course will look at real cases of successes and failures from entrepreneurs who have tried to tackle these problems in novel ways. Students will be asked to create their own startup and will be provided with the tools to create it.

“It’s not just a course, it’s an opportunity to change the world,” says Dehgan.

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About this course: The purpose of this course is to introduce you to current global challenges in conservation and development, including changes in both sectors. This course will inspire you to rethink assumptions to address global challenges in conservation and development, and introduce you to new models and approaches that harness technological, behavioral, and financial innovation. This course will equip you with the insights, skills and approaches necessary to successfully overcome these obstacles. In addition, this course will provide participants with the tools, models, and approaches to address global grand challenges in conservation and development, to question fundamental assumptions, and to create and execute new solutions. Course participants will be trained in the processes around innovation and design to address global grand challenges. This includes content focused on constructing innovation pipelines, principals of design and engineering unique to the developing world and to conservation (Design for the Other 90%), on harnessing and developing disruptive technologies, principles of behavior and marketing, and on overcoming the challenges with setting up social ventures.

The course format will facilitate the development of a global community of innovators who will help solve the current and future grand challenges our planet faces in conservation and development, and will encourage thinking about how to do so that rethinks traditional assumptions and approaches within both conservation and development. This course will leverage the incredible idealism and interest in social entrepreneurship, design, and innovation among the millennials, in the US and abroad, and is intended to appeal to those interested in the maker movement. It also seeks to engage individuals in the developing world who are closest to the problems of conservation and development, who would benefit from the approaches taught in the course, and who can leverage their own knowledge of local culture.