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Course Structure

Institute description:
The Hampshire College Design and Innovation for Social Change Summer Program (HC-DISC) is a transdisciplinary academic program that applies critical social inquiry to applied design; appropriate technology; alternative energy and transportation; social entrepreneurship; and art and technology.

Through experiential means, this six-week summer program will expose students to the concepts, methods, and practices through which design-based change happens. We will work in teams to bring innovative class project ideas to life though the design/build prototype process.

This year’s theme is Sustainable Towns and Cities. Examples of potential project areas include:

  • Food and urbanism
  • Renewable energy
  • Transportation
  • Energy production
  • Water resources/access

We will be selecting and developing projects through a lens of sustainability from an interdisciplinary perspective, taking into consideration not just the physical environment’s role in sustainability but also issues of social and economic justice and the role of culture. This lens will encourage us to consider topics such as whole systems thinking/design; resources and materials; job creation and who is being employed; the impact of sustainability projects on communities; and natural/closed loop systems.

Synopsis of course structure:
The course will consist of lectures, discussions, and design and fabrication skill trainings to support students in both building context for project ideas and developing, building, testing, and refining a prototype of their idea (group project).

General schedule:
For the first two weeks of the program, students will spend five hours per day immersed in an exploration of the major global issues regarding environmental, economic, and social sustainability as they relate to entrepreneurship and applied design. This will take the shape of lectures, discussions, and applied learning activities. For the remaining four weeks of the program, students will spend that same time developing and designing collaborative project ideas, then fabricating/executing and evaluating prototypes of those projects (See “Summary of Key Topics” below for more details).

Course projects:
Students will work in teams to bring innovative project ideas to life through a hands on design/build prototype process. Students are welcome to propose a project idea when applying to the program, and program faculty will develop a list of potential projects for teams to consider. Projects will be chosen for their applicability to the course theme, practicality for development in the six-week time frame, and available design/build resources. Examples of project ideas may include:

Alternative Energy Models (wind, solar, etc.)
Bike Share Programs
Small Scale Food Growing
Public Art/Furniture from Upcycled Materials
Community Map Making
“Collective Consumption” Service Development


Contact Us

Design and Innovation for Social Change
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002

© 2013 Hampshire College 893 West Street Amherst, MA 01002 . 413.549.4600