Design for Social Impact

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What is Design for Social Impact?

Design for Social Impact is a collaboration between mHabitat, the School of Design at the University of Leeds and Mannheim University of Applied Sciences (MUAS) in Germany.

The collaboration enables MUAS students who are studying a joint Masters degree ‘Design Future Society’ to apply design thinking to address social challenges in Leeds where they are based as part of an exchange programme.

Through this collaboration we hope to enable organisations with a social purpose in Leeds to learn about design thinking and benefit from students bringing fresh perspectives, ideas and solutions to the challenges they face.

What is design thinking and how could it benefit my organisation?

Design thinking is an approach to innovation that places humans at the centre of the outcomes. As an activity, it makes use of creative approaches to defining problems, identifying the most appropriate technologies to overcome them, and ensuring that the outcomes are economically viable.


What are the objectives of Design for Social Impact?

To provide students with direct international experience of working with local community groups, organisations (NHS, public and third sector) in identifying problems and proposing appropriate creative solutions. The students will apply design thinking to social, environmental and economic challenges and demonstrate both innovation and pragmatism in their proposed solutions.

To provide local community groups, NHS, public and third sector organisations in Leeds with an opportunity to engage with a small team of Masters degree students to design a creative solution to a specific challenge or problem.


What are the timescales?

You can apply to be part of Design for Social Impact anytime up until the 31 July. We will review applications and notify successful groups/organisations by 11 August. This will be followed up by a phone call or meeting to discuss your requirements in more detail.

The project will begin on 25th September and must be completed by the end of December 2017. The students will deliver the following:

  • Meet with the group/organisation to clarify the brief
  • Undertake a critical review of background literature, research methods and evidence in respect of the challenge
  • Prepare a project plan
  • Undertake research in the group/organisation to understand the context and gain insights into the challenge
  • Produce a solution (report) or prototype
  • Present the solution or prototype to the group/organisation.
  • The students will participate in group supervision from the mHabitat team during the course of the project. mHabitat will be available to address any queries during the project.


Who do the outputs of the project belong to?

Any foreground intellectual property developed during the Design for Social Impact generated by a student will be the property of the student. The University of Leeds and Mannheim University of Applied Sciences have the right to use student work for the purposes of marketing.

The group/organisation will be free to apply and/or further develop the solution for social impact in their context. Any potential commercial opportunities arising from the solution will be subject to negotiation between the group/organisation and the student.


How do I apply?

We are seeking applications from NHS, public and third sector groups and organisations who would like help with a social challenge. The solution to the challenge should be a social one – improving the lives of the people they serve.

Successful groups/organisations will have access to a team of three Masters students working with them for 40 hours over a three month period to help them find a solution to their challenge.

The deadline for completed applications is Monday 31 July at 5pm (access the application form here).  All applications will be reviewed by the partners and applicants notified of the outcome by 11 August.



If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the mHabitat team via the  email account and we will get in touch.