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DSN 114 W — Creative by Design: Innovating with Design Thinking and the Arts

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 7 weeks
Date(s): Sep 24—Nov 9
Drop Deadline: Sep 27
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $460
Instructor(s): Michael Shanks, Connie Svabo
Limit: 55
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 9/27 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 10/2 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Sep 24—Nov 9
7 weeks
Drop By
Sep 27
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Michael Shanks, Connie Svabo
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 9/27 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 10/2 at 5:00 pm (PT).
You might be seeking a new perspective in a novel you’re writing, looking to develop a new product or service in your business, or pursuing new authentic family experiences. How might you come up with fresh innovation? Where do creative ideas come from? How do you make them work, grow, and develop, and turn them to good ends? Under a growth mindset of creative exploration and experiment, this course shares a toolkit of techniques drawn from design thinking and the arts to develop our imaginative capacity to innovate. Creative imagination is not solely a property of the artistic or design genius but comprises skills and competencies that can be easily learned and adapted to all sorts of circumstances—personal, organizational, business, and community. The course uses videos, readings, case studies drawn from design and the arts, demonstrations, exercises, open forums with faculty, and personal feedback to share creative techniques. Particular focus will be on scenarios and future worldbuilding as ways of framing creative innovation. A takeaway will be a class “playbook” outlining the techniques and case studies. While there are many books and systems that promise to enhance creativity and deliver innovation, this course stems freshly from the tried and tested field of design.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 55 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, Stanford

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

Connie Svabo, Associate Professor of Performance Design, Roskilde University, Denmark

Connie Svabo studies the design of physical environments for rich human experience. She is the author or a co-author of more than twenty research papers on design thinking and design ecology. She has led and facilitated several Danish national innovation networks on the themes of innovation and spatial design. She consults with private, public, and political organizations on creating inspiring, healthy, and beautiful spatial experience designs.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.