Save the Date: Blum Center to Host Impact Design Education Summit

Save the Date:Impact Design Education Summit

November 6th, 2017
The Blum Center For Developing Economies, UC Berkeley

Social impact design, referring to the practice of design for creating positive change and lasting impact in low-resource settings, has increasingly gained popularity at universities across the country and indeed globally. From engineers to entrepreneurs, students from diverse disciplines are seeking opportunities in this field. But how can universities better equip students in translating ideas, projects and skills from classrooms and lab benches to the real world?

With support from the Autodesk Foundation, The Blum Center for Developing Economies at the University of California, Berkeley will host the Impact Design Education Summit to bring together educators and practitioners to discuss the state of university-based impact design education. The summit aims to generate and disseminate knowledge about impact design pedagogies, from novel curricula used by universities and design colleges to online approaches targeting lifelong learners. Sessions will highlight best practices and learnings with a focus on how to integrate equity, entrepreneurship training, and 21st century skills into design impact curricula.The summit will also identify ways to build upon educational tools that are working and serve as a platform for seeding new, powerful collaborations. Participants will have the opportunity to share existing strategies used to teach design, compare tactics, and create an agenda for determine the most effective vehicles for imparting impact design skills on future practitioners.

Register Here:

For more information, please contact Chloe Gregori,


Blum Center Receives First Higher Education Grant from Autodesk Foundation

Blum Center News

Autodesk FoundationFebruary 1, 2016—As part of its investment focus on supporting people and organizations using design for impact, the Autodesk Foundation has awarded UC Berkeley’s Blum Center for Developing Economies one of the Foundation’s first university grants.

The Blum Center is among four higher education institutions—including the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology (Bangalore, India), Olin College (Needham, Mass.), and the Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, Calif.)—to be recognized for their impact design ecosystem.

Impact design is rooted in the core belief that design can be used to create positive social, environmental, and economic change, and focuses on actively measuring impact to inform and direct the design process.

“The Autodesk Foundation looked at hundreds of colleges and universities around the world engaged in impact design,” said Lynelle Cameron, president and CEO of the Autodesk Foundation. “We chose these four institutions for the strength of their programs and the diversity of their approaches. The Blum Center appealed to us because of its emphasis on human-centered design and experiential learning. We appreciate that the Blum Center’s impact design process relies on interdisciplinary collaboration for achieving breakthrough ideas and inventions.”

The gift will facilitate new courses and student initiatives that promote and support impact design. In particular, the Blum Center will launch a “Hardware for Good” challenge in its highly regarded student innovation competition, Big Ideas@Berkeley.  Since its founding in 2006, Big Ideas@ Berkeley has inspired innovative and high-impact student-led projects aimed at solving problems that matter to this generation. The contest has sourced hundreds of innovations, and supported thousands of problem-solvers who have gone on to launch nonprofits, for-profits, and cross-sector partnerships that are scaling solutions across the globe.

In addition, the Blum Center will initiate a new project-learning track for students in the Development Engineering program.  Development Engineering is an emerging field preparing the next generation of development practitioners totake an integrated approach to develop sustainable solutions. Utilizing human-centered design approaches, engineering expertise, and an economic framework, this emerging field combines cross-cultural learning, novel financing mechanisms, prototyping and scaling, rigorous evaluation, and new models for productive international collaboration.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Autodesk Foundation to support students and faculty who want to make a difference,” said Maryanne McCormick, executive director of the Blum Center. “Today’s greatest challenges require the expertise and collaboration of every possible field. A key ingredient of success is impact design, enabling more innovative, scalable, and measurable solutions.”

The Autodesk Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Autodesk, a multinational corporation that makes software for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, and entertainment industries. The Blum Center enables interdisciplinary problem-solving aimed at poverty alleviation and social impact, operating on the notion that a world-class, public university must be a force for addressing urgent and important issues. Since its founding in 2006, the Blum Center’s mission has been to train people, support ideas, and enable solutions.

“If we want more people using the power of design to address today’s epic challenges, we need to equip future designers and engineers with the skills, knowledge, and tools to do so,” said Joe Speicher, executive director of the Autodesk Foundation. “We chose to support the Blum Center for Developing Economies because of their success as an interdisciplinary hub for social impact studies and action that prepares the next generation of change agents.”