Maastricht, Netherlands

Solution Designs for Sustainability Transitions

blended course
when 24 June 2024 - 28 July 2024
language English
duration 5 weeks
credits 4 EC
fee EUR 599

This course will offer in-depth insights into how systems thinking, solution design frameworks, and the design thinking approach can be applied by individuals, organisations, and policymakers to address contemporary societal challenges. These elements will be brought together in several skills building exercises, wherein students make a case for systemic change (e.g., change in organisational behaviour, change in public policy, other forms of innovation, etc.) in the form of solution design briefs and a Pecha-Kucha-style presentation of a social or public policy initiative.

First, students will learn to represent any context as a part of a complex evolving system by identifying key economic actors, their inter-relations, their conflicting and complementary objectives, and other systematic characteristics. Students will learn to link these frameworks to technology, innovation, and public policy.
Second, students will be introduced to solution design. They will also learn about the design thinking methodology and discover how it is different from traditional forms of research. They will have an opportunity to apply solution design techniques such as stakeholder mapping and characterisation to case studies of contemporary problems.
Third, students will focus on the meso-level, at how individuals and organisations can use design thinking as strategic tools for sustainability transitions. They will get more opportunities to apply solution design frameworks on case studies dealing with diverse SDGs. Students will appreciate the value of building a ‘Theory of change’ for road-mapping transformations, co-evolving strategies with outcomes and evaluating projects.
Fourth, students will explore the potential of the integration of design thinking in policy innovations. They will gain insight on becoming efficient co-designers of tomorrow’s sustainable society. Students will demonstrate their ability to apply the solution design frameworks to formulate their own theories of change.
This is a unique opportunity for students to understand how contemporary societal challenges can be understood and addressed. The solution design approach recognizes the need to work together, which means recognizing the relevant stakeholders, their social responsibilities, and the engagement costs. In this context, this course is to help understand and develop practical skills in collective thinking and collective solution design. The goal is to become efficient co-designers of tomorrow’s sustainable society.

Course leader

Shyama V. Ramani
Maria Tomai

Target group

This course is open without specific prerequisites, though enrolment is encouraged for those who have completed at least their second year of undergraduate studies. Third-year Bachelor students, as well as master’s and Doctoral students, are welcome to join.

Course aim

• Apply the central concepts of solution design techniques to represent the systemic features of a societal challenge context and rationalise possible solution designs.
• Explain and rationalise the design and implementation of private and social initiatives as well as public policy using solution design frameworks.
• Provide examples to illustrate how solution designs-based methodology integrates observations of typical and atypical users, addresses negative externalities and non-economic responses such as emotional one to design successful solutions.
• Explain how design thinking methodology is different from more traditional problem-solving approaches.
• Provide examples to explain the advantages and limitations of design thinking and public policy for sustainability transitions.

Fee info

EUR 599: Tuition Fee