University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design + School of Social Policy & Practice

Join us to imagine and design a better future for the community you care most about.

Whether you’re looking to change direction, launch a new project, shape your community or simply live a more creative and purposeful life, the Executive Program in Social Innovation Design will start you on the road towards meaning and impact.

This innovative 5-month executive program from the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design and the Center for Social Impact Strategy (CSIS) at the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) is a unique hybrid format that lets you learn at your own pace and fits into your life. The program offers learning through online courses while also giving you in-person opportunities to create community with campus convenings. Learn about the nuts and bolts of human-centered design, community needs assessment, performance measurement and mobilization strategy.

Few programs combine rigorous training in design with strategy tools for social impact. This program integrates these two distinct but complementary subjects.

Who is this
program for?
It is for design professionals who want to utilize their skill set for positive change but aren't sure where to start.
It is for professionals working in mission-driven organizations but need design tools to achieve their goals.
It is for those seeking purpose and meaning at the intersection of work and values.
The Executive Program for Social Innovation Design (XSD)
This is a place for budding social innovators who want to take the first steps to identify a social problem, imagine innovative and sustainable solutions, and learn the tools to prototype and implement their ideas.
It is for:
  • — Designers
  • — Architects
  • — Urban planners
  • — Landscape architects
  • — Business professionals
  • — Nonprofit workers
  • — Government agency staffers

Executive program for social innovation design


  • Learn to move effectively between defining problems, designing solutions and piloting new approaches.
  • Connect with a fascinating and diverse community of creative problem solvers poised to make a difference.
  • Explore and test your ideas and move them towards reality.
  • Discover new frameworks and business models.
  • Build creativity and purpose into your daily work.

“Sarah’s Design Thinking class has been one of my favorite classes at Penn for its practical application in the workplace. The tools she exposed us to, in terms of generating design ideas and rapid prototyping, can be applicable to any sort of project.”

— Penn Student

Program Overview

A unique hybrid format that lets you learn at your own pace and fits into your life while also giving you in-person opportunities to create community. Full program tuition is $4250, with a $300 discount applied to early applicants. The program is 16 weeks long and begins on September 5, 2019.

Online Courses

Design Thinking For Social Innovation (6 weeks)

Self & Society (3 weeks)


Convening (October 28+29)

Online Courses

Social Impact & Practice (3 weeks)

Ongoing Independent Studio: Define, Design, Pilot

Online Electives (choose 2)

Elective 1 (3 weeks)

Elective 2 (3 weeks)


Optional Convening (February 3)

Core Faculty

Sarah Rottenberg,Faculty Director, XSD

Sarah is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design and the Executive Director of the Integrated Product Design Program, a master's program at Penn that brings together design, business, and engineering. She also works as a consultant to corporate clients, training teams in design research methodologies and facilitating strategic product and business design sessions and teaches Design Thinking for Wharton Executive Education.

Julie Donofrio

Julie is the Managing Director of PennPraxis, the center for applied research, engagement and practice at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, where she leads projects focused on community engagement, capacity building, evaluation, and neighborhood planning. Julie also teaches in the Department of City and Regional Planning, including first-year studio “Planning Workshop,” and Social Impact in Practice, focused on building skills and context for community engagement.

Kaveh Sadeghian

Kaveh is the Creative Director of the Center for Social Impact Strategy, a research and training center based in UPenn's School of Social Policy and Practice. There, he oversees the design and facilitation of all programming, leveraging organizational psychology and design-thinking to help impact leaders work more effectively and compassionately. Beyond campus, Kaveh develops leadership programs and facilitates for impact-driven organizations, including the World Bank, Obama Foundation, and Amnesty International.

Important Program Dates

Sept 5-6


Sept 9

Courses begin

Oct 28 + 29

On-Campus Convening

Create positive change.

You have the power to effect large-scale change and create solutions that matter to people. So, what’s next?

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