This toolbox was created to help support HEI teaching staff on the development of a challenge-based social innovation course.

If you are planning to actively involve your students in a process of creating solutions to today’s greatest societal challenges
by collaborating with local and national partners, then this toolbox is for you.

Design led by ESADE & ESSEC and co-created by the EXPAND Partners

Access the Toolbox:

The programme in numbers…

55 Students enrolled in Paris and Barcelona

11 Solutions developed

15 partners involved

Who is it for?

  • Teaching staff who have previous expertise in Design Thinking (user-centric approach) and wish to create from scratch a social innovation course.
  • Teaching staff who would like to include social impact challenges as part of their Innovation and/or Design Thinking courses.
  • Social Innovation incubators or accelerators, NGO’s, public and private organizations who wish to work with Higher Education Institutions to collaborate in the development of social impact courses.

What’s in it for you?

  • This toolbox will help you conceptualize social innovation through a design thinking course.
  • Test and assess your idea, develop and/or consolidate your solution and measure your impact.
  • Provides useful materials to use in each phase of developing a social innovation

How to use this toolbox?

  • Programme Overview: you will find the programme description, pedagogical goals, and structure.
  • Programme Components: including the challenge description, the implementation guidelines, and the evaluation process.
  • Resources and relevant materials.

What people say about the EXPAND Accelerator?

“Homelessness is a complex problem that requires an in-depth understanding of the systems and the people that it impacts. We used a human centric approach, called Design Thinking, as well as a systemic approach, called Systems Change, in this course.

The students learnt first-hand that we cannot generalise but need to understand who the persons are who are homeless and why they are homeless. Really understanding the complexities of the problem allowed the students to come up with creative ideas which they then tested with users.”

Nanita Ferrone, Course Academic Director, ESADE

“Participating in the EXPAND project was an incredible journey. Working with colleagues from ESADE was an enriching experience. Through this collaboration, we were able to create a highly interdisciplinary course that combined multiple pedagogical approaches.

What made this experience even more rewarding was seeing the progress made by the students. They demonstrated a remarkable understanding of complex social challenges, particularly homelessness, and their commitment to finding social innovative solutions”

Thierry Sibieude, Professor at ESSEC, Founder of the Chair of Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship.

Toolbox intro video with Nanita Ferroni from Esade

“10 weeks to develop a social innovation project”

Format : hybrid

Evaluation :
Assignments during the course: 60%
Final project outcome and presentation: 40%
Peer evaluation: +/-

Duration: 10 weeks

Time investment :
25 hours of sessions
75 hours of individual and group work)
Total: 100 hours

ECTS credits : 4

Target :
Master’s degree or Bachelor’s

This course is an idea accelerator programme for future entrepreneurs tackling systemic problems in society. It will allow students to learn and apply the Design Thinking methodology to tackle a social innovation challenge in 10 weeks. Students will develop creative thinking skills and the ability to move from conceptual thinking to taking action.

After this course Students will be able to:

  • Apply Design thinking to social innovation.
  • Understand the complexity of a social challenge : analyze an ecosystem, understand the context and the impact on the territory…
  • Identify innovation opportunities throughout the system.
  • Turn your ideas into desirable solutions.
  • Carry out experiments to validate these solutions.
  • Present your project in an impactful way in order to convince stakeholders (pitch).
  • Develop essential soft skills such as leadership, storytelling, empathy, teamwork… think their way through abstract problems, work in teams, distinguish good information from bad, or speak a language other than [their own].
14 videos with key theoretical content
10 sessions of 2h30 with the teacher
Team work between sessions
Group mentoring sessions
Field work


Week 0 : Introduction
Week 1 : Understanding the challenge – ethnographic research 1/2
Week 2 : Ethnographic research 2/2
Week 3 : System thinking for social change
Week 4 : Field data processing
Week 5 :  Problem statement
Week 6 : Ideation
Week 7 : Prototyping 1/2
Week 8 : prototyping 2/2
Week 9 : Business Models
Week 10 : Pitch

Access the Toolbox here!