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University of Toronto

Human-Centered Design for Inclusive Innovation

University of Toronto via Coursera


This course introduces the principles and practices of human-centered design (also sometimes called “design thinking”) which are essential for developing innovative and inclusive products, services, processes and policies. You will learn by doing, experiencing the design process through exercises and a mini-bootcamp.

In this course, you will learn about and experience key human-centered design practices: empathize, reframe, ideate, prototype and test. You will learn why human-centered design is a central component of Gender Analytics. You will develop skills in problem finding (and not just problem solving) by understanding users', stakeholders’ and beneficiaries' lived experiences. You will learn to co-create with diverse stakeholders, develop prototypes, and iterate to develop more innovative solutions. This is the third course of the Gender Analytics Specialization offered by the Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE) at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. It's great on its own, and you will get even more out of it if you take it as part of the Specialization.


  • Human-centered design for inclusive innovation
    • In this module, you will learn the basics of human-centered design. You will get a taste of working as a designer and walk through the steps of the design process in a mini-bootcamp exercise. At the end of the module, we will discuss how human-centered design fits well with Gender Analytics.
  • Empathize: Empathy-based research methods
    • Building empathy is the foundation of human-centered design. Problems we’re solving are usually not only ours, but are experienced by other people, such as our employees, customers, clients, colleagues, and others in the community. To truly understand the context and complexity of the problem we’re trying to solve, we need to focus on putting people first and directing our curiosity towards them.

      In this module, we’re going to dive deeper into the first phase — Empathize. You will learn how to build empathy for target customers or beneficiaries using design-thinking methods. This will help you gain rich insights for your design of a product, service, process or policy.
  • Reframing: Making sense of your research
    • Are you solving the right problem? It doesn’t matter how great your solution is if you are working on the wrong problem. It is important to take the time to understand what you are solving for. In this week, you will learn a few tools and techniques to dig beyond the obvious patterns and draw out key insights to identify the deeper problems to solve. At the end of this week, you will be able to reframe of the problem to solve for your design challenge.
  • Ideate, prototype, and test
    • Now that you have reframed your challenge, it’s time to start finding innovative solutions. In this module, you will learn how to apply an intersectional gender lens to the ideation process to create an inclusive design, build prototypes to test your ideas, and refine your solution based on feedback.

Taught by

Sarah Kaplan, Nika Stelman and Mark Leung

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