Open Design Studio: Participatory Solutions for Human Flourishing (2022-2023)

This project team is currently recruiting students to join their Education and Community Models for Tech for Equity subteams. Interested students should send a resume and letter of interest to and


As innovations change societies and complex problems become more interdisciplinary, having representation of all voices is essential for flourishing communities. Key contributors to human flourishing include health, education, economic development and community development. Despite aspirations that innovation within these areas will transform humanity, human stakeholders have often been left out of research and development processes.

Design thinking and human-centered design approaches are gaining traction as effective ways to understand stakeholders. While these approaches to innovation are an improvement in integrating stakeholder perspectives, ultimately the reason for the integration is to make the solution more marketable. Though there is a heightened focus on how humans will interact with the byproduct of an innovation process, the process is not equitable. Traditional design thinking and human-centered design processes still turn humans into end users. What is needed is an approach to innovation that foregrounds equity and co-creation in processes and solutions.

Project Description

The Open Design Studio at Duke is a collective of educators, student and community partners interested in creating solutions to promote human flourishing across social sectors. Open design is an equity-focused research and development process inspired by open-source principles. In both its methodology and its solutions, the Open Design Studio is committed to cultivating a desired world: actively inclusive, transparent and collaborative.

This project team aims to employ an equity-centered innovation approach to create solutions across social sectors, thereby elevating the voices of stakeholders who have traditionally been excluded from problem-solving and decision-making processes. Team members will engage open design through four phases with stakeholder cocreators:

  1. Understand: Empathize with stakeholders to define the needs, desires and hopes of the community
  2. Create: Ideate and prototype to find radical ways to build and share
  3. Evaluate: Test and iterate to determine which experiments can move forward
  4. Share: Communicate research findings.

Team members will work in four subteams: 

  1. Education: Create culturally relevant and project-based computer science curricula for K-12 students to advance racial and gender equity in CS education and careers.
  2. Necessity-Driven Entrepreneurship: Expand access to capital and other resources to support small businesses and build economic strength and resilience in communities traditionally underrepresented in the entrepreneurship space.
  3. Community Models for Tech for Equity: Create an experiential learning model for Duke students to collaborate with industry professionals to develop technology for advancing equity.
  4. Climate and Sustainability: Build on data-driven, regional resilience assessments to create equitable, community-centered solutions to the anticipated impacts of climate threats such as flooding, extreme heat and water supply shortages.

Anticipated Outputs

Solutions to community problems; equity-centered model for university-community cocreation; landscape analyses; team website; data for further research, grants and publications; workshops; professional development tools; technology prototypes


  • Summer 2022 (optional): Graduate student Open Design Strategists participate in intensive 2-week training course; seek IRB approval; draft project management workflows for subteams
  • Fall 2022: Conduct qualitative interviews and surveys; work through design phases 1 and 2; work on subteam-specific goals
  • Spring 2023: Work through design phases 3 and 4 
  • Summer 2023 (optional): Continue iterative development of subteam solutions if funding is available

This Team in the News

Duke Students Design Solutions to Help Communities Flourish

See earlier related team, Open Design Studio: Participatory Solutions for Human Flourishing (2021-2022).


Image: Collaboration (one of the open design principles), courtesy of 2021-22 project team

Collaborating group.

Team Leaders

  • Aria Chernik, Social Science Research Institute|Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Kevin Hoch, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

/graduate Team Members

  • Amanda Booth, Masters of Public Policy
  • Sara Diamond, Master of Environmental Management, Ecosystem Science and Conservation, Community Based Environmental
  • Rachel Gordon, Business and Environment
  • Rachael Grainger, Masters of Public Policy
  • Ishaan Mehrotra, No Major Declared
  • Diane Sanchez, Master of Environmental Management
  • Yuxuan Tian, Masters of Public Policy

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Emilio Abelmann
  • Ashwin Gadiraju, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Ritvik Janamsetty
  • Tanya Manocha
  • Durga Sreenivasan

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Tavey Capps, Duke Sustainability Program
  • Jason Elliott, Duke Sustainability Program
  • Michael Gustafson, Pratt School of Engineering-Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Anna Masciarelli, Office of Sustainability
  • Rebecca Simmons, Pratt School of Engineering-Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Tang Institute
  • Helius Foundation
  • Durham County Sustainability Office