Skip to Content


The latest news and stories from Duke’s innovation and entrepreneurship community

Solving Real-World Problems with Open Design

In light of COVID-19, how do we transform learning at Duke?

It’s a big question and really, there is no better group to find a solution than Duke students. Aria Chernik (Social Science Research Institute and Innovation & Entrepreneurship) and Kevin Hoch (Innovation & Entrepreneurship) co-led Open Design+, a summer course where students were taught how to ideate, create, test, and iterate impactful solutions to real-world, complex problems. The pandemic, of course, is an example of just this kind of problem. We need to be able to think big and act creatively—and above all with empathy—to find solutions that can propel communities forward.  

“Open design is derived from design thinking and the human centered design process. We spent a lot of time on the ethos of open and open source methodologies and principles. We go through the design process but are very attentive to things like transparency, inclusivity, collaboration, and community,” said Chernik. 

Working in small, interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students, students in Open Design+ gained an understanding of open design, a variation of design thinking that emphasizes the ethical implications of how and what we design. The challenge for Chernik and Hoch was how to create a virtual environment in which the team could collaborate authentically, meaningfully, and frequently. Very little of this work could be done alone: interviewing stakeholders, brainstorming sessions, testing and evaluating prototypes, defining problems, and communicating results. Collaboration was key.

Related Stories

Duke Student Founders Showcase Tomorrow’s World-Changing Ventures

Strolling from table to table at the 2023 Duke Startup Showcase in April, you could sample authentic Middle

READ MORE about duke student founders showcase tomorrow’s world-changing ventures

Inspired Foody Emma Leventer Shares Her Recipe for Business Magic

Emma Leventer ’19 is founder and CEO of Cuiscene Studio, which provides food photography and video, brand development

READ MORE about inspired foody emma leventer shares her recipe for business magic
Back to top