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Announcing – Participatory Solutions for Human Flourishing Project

Open Design Studio: Participatory Solutions for Human Flourishing (2022-2023)


As innovations change societies and complex problems become more interdisciplinary, having representation of all voices is essential for flourishing communities. Key contributors to human flourishing include health, education, economic development and community development. Despite aspirations that innovation within these areas will transform humanity, human stakeholders have often been left out of research and development processes.

Design thinking and human-centered design approaches are gaining traction as effective ways to understand stakeholders. While these approaches to innovation are an improvement in integrating stakeholder perspectives, ultimately the reason for the integration is to make the solution more marketable. Though there is a heightened focus on how humans will interact with the byproduct of an innovation process, the process is not equitable. Traditional design thinking and human-centered design processes still turn humans into end users. What is needed is an approach to innovation that foregrounds equity and co-creation in processes and solutions.

Project Description

The Open Design Studio at Duke is a collective of educators, student and community partners interested in creating solutions to promote human flourishing across social sectors. Open design is an equity-focused research and development process inspired by open-source principles. In both its methodology and its solutions, the Open Design Studio is committed to cultivating a desired world: actively inclusive, transparent and collaborative.

This project team aims to employ an equity-centered innovation approach to create solutions across social sectors, thereby elevating the voices of stakeholders who have traditionally been excluded from problem-solving and decision-making processes. Team members will engage open design through four phases with stakeholder cocreators:

  1. Understand: Empathize with stakeholders to define the needs, desires and hopes of the community
  2. Create: Ideate and prototype to find radical ways to build and share
  3. Evaluate: Test and iterate to determine which experiments can move forward
  4. Share: Communicate research findings.

Team members will work in five subteams:

  1. Education: Create culturally relevant and project-based computer science curricula for K-12 students to advance racial and gender equity in CS education and careers.
  2. Necessity-Driven Entrepreneurship: Expand access to capital and other resources to support small businesses and build economic strength and resilience in communities traditionally underrepresented in the entrepreneurship space.
  3. Health: Explore, understand and improve healthcare experiences of youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities, specifically focusing on health communication dynamics in healthcare settings.
  4. Climate and Sustainability: Build on data-driven, regional resilience assessments to create equitable, community-centered solutions to the anticipated impacts of climate threats such as flooding, extreme heat and water supply shortages.
  5. Food Insecurity: Better understand the needs and support bridging services of NC Integrated Care for Kids (NC InCK), a government-funded collaboration that serves Medicaid-insured families across five North Carolina counties (Alamance, Orange, Durham, Granville and Vance).