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DSN 111 W — Design Your Future: Design Thinking and Foresight Strategy for Businesses and Organizations

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 26—Dec 9
Drop Deadline: Oct 4
Unit(s): 2 Units
Tuition: $435
Limit: 45
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class the week of Thanksgiving
Sep 26—Dec 9
10 weeks
Drop By
Oct 4
2 Units
Please Note: No class the week of Thanksgiving

We live in an interconnected world where the old answers don’t seem to apply, where even successful businesses need to embrace radical change, where global challenges demand collaboration and innovation on a new scale, where choices seem overwhelming. Now more than ever, we need to be flexible, nonlinear, and ready for change. And that’s where design thinking and foresight strategy can make the difference.

This online course arises out of the outstanding achievements of Stanford’s design community—human-centered and focused on skill sets and toolkits that anyone can adopt. The course will show how to apply design thinking and foresight strategy, and explain how they can generate innovative solutions to challenges we face in our businesses, organizations, and teams. We will answer questions like: How do we foster a lasting culture of innovation in our business or organization? How do we increase idea cross-pollination across our groups? How do we build an innovation-savvy leadership team? How do we model our competitive landscape as it reaches into the future? How do we pick the right idea to develop? How should we understand who is our future customer?

The course uses videos, readings, case studies, demonstrations, exercises, open forums with faculty, and personal feedback to explain just what design thinking and foresight strategy are, their context and significance, and how to bring both into your business, team, and organization. A unique feature of the course is the range of case studies we explore to illustrate the features of design thinking and foresight strategy. They are drawn from history, the arts, everyday life, and other cultures, as well as, of course, from current experience in businesses, private, and public organizations. The aim is to generate inspiring insight from outside-the-box viewpoints.

This course may not be taken for a Letter Grade.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 45 participants.

  • Frequent interaction with the instructor.
    You aren't expected to work through the material alone. Instructors will answer questions and interact with students on the discussion board and through weekly video meetings.

  • Study with a vibrant peer group.
    Stanford Continuing Studies courses attract thoughtful and engaged students who take courses for the love of learning. Students in each course will exchange ideas with one another through easy-to-use message boards as well as optional weekly real-time video conferences.

  • Direct feedback from the instructor.
    Instructors will review and offer feedback on assignment submissions. Students are not required to turn in assignments, but for those who do, their work is graded by the instructor.

  • Courses offer the flexibility to participate on your own schedule.
    Course work is completed on a weekly basis when you have the time. You can log in and participate in the class whenever it's convenient for you. If you can’t attend the weekly video meetings, the sessions are always recorded for you and your instructor is just an email away.

  • This course is offered through Stanford Continuing Studies.
    To learn more about the program, visit our About Us page. For more information on the online format, please visit the FAQ page.

Michael Shanks, Professor of Classics; Professor of Archaeology; Senior Faculty, Program in Writing and Rhetoric, Science Technology and Society, Urban Studies, and the Center for Design Research, School of Engineering, Stanford

Michael Shanks is an archaeologist and specialist in long-term humanistic views of design and innovation, a senior faculty member in Stanford’s Programs in Science Technology Science, Urban Studies, and in the Center for Design Research, part of Stanford’s d.school. He has directed Stanford Humanities Lab and the Revs Program, connecting automotive heritage with contemporary car design. While he pursues fieldwork into the Roman borders, he also serves on the Mayor of Rotterdam’s Advisory Board and works with many companies, including Airbus, Severstal, Thales, Michelin, Daimler Chrysler, SAP, on developing cultures of innovation.

Tamara Carleton, CEO and Founder, Innovation Leadership Board LLC

Tamara Carleton focuses on the design of tools and processes that enable breakthrough innovation. She is a member of the Foresight Design Research program within Stanford’s Center for Design Research. She received a PhD in mechanical engineering from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

No required textbooks