MIT D-Lab teaches, practices, and studies participatory innovation, a multifaceted approach to increasing the meaningful engagement of a variety of stakeholders working to design solutions to poverty-related challenges. Our definition of “innovation” is not limited to new inventions; instead we focus on the development of an idea into a solution that adds enough value to users that it replaces the traditional or current way of doing something. D-Lab Innovation Practice is centered on the implementation and advancement of Co-Design and User-Created Design as methods in this work, and the dissemination of these methods through Trainings that emphasize our particular approach to authentic and inclusive participation in design.  


D-Lab’s co-design — or “design with users” — curriculum brings diverse stakeholders together, including beneficiaries, to collaboratively create solutions to locally-defined, poverty-related challenges. Through the practices of empathy, collective ideation and decision-making, sketch modeling and prototyping, and incorporating user feedback, participants increase their capacity to engage effectively in the collaborative design of highly feasible solutions. D-Lab promotes co-design through its involvement with the International Development Design Summits and by engaging students and researchers in collaborations with community partners. 

User-Created Design 

User-created design -- or "design by users”-- invites participants to use their creativity and deep local knowledge to develop solutions to challenges they identify as relevant to improving their own lives and communities. D-Lab has distilled key elements of the design process into a hands-on curriculum called Creative Capacity Building (CCB) that is accessible to anyone at any educational level and is adaptable to a range of themes and settings. CCB trainings focus on the potential impact of the process of innovation itself, not just the products of innovation (technologies), as we view design as a pathway to building self-confidence, inspiring self-efficacy, and enabling anyone with interest to become a solution-finder.


As a method, catalytic workshops or convenings that bring together teams of people from diverse disciplines and backgrounds can be a highly effective way to surface challenges and to work towards solutions. D-Lab collaborates with a range of partners to select an appropriate training structure and curriculum to match the objectives of a given project. Learn more.