Center for Socially Engaged Design

We live in a complex world. Our greatest challenges require multiple perspectives and expertise to begin to move the needle toward a positive impact. A group of colleagues from across the University (Law, Information, and Engineering) have teamed up to bring stakeholders and students together in a fast-paced ½ day event to inspire the next generation of socially conscious and passionate students to be a part of making the world more equitable. 

Apply to participate in a future Design Jam

Design Jam dates for Winter 2020 will be announced soon!

Previous Design Jams

Drowning Prevention in the Great Lakes
September 13, 2019, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Location: U-M School of Information Engagement Center
Topic: Design a way to increase beachgoers’ awareness and understanding of the dangers of the Great Lakes while encouraging the safe enjoyment of their beaches and shoreline.

Voter Registration for Transient Populations with Turbovote
September 26, 2019, 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Location: U-M School of Information Engagement Center
Topic: How might we support voter registration in transient populations like graduating students without requiring new online accounts and retaining personal information?

Water Access in Rural Ecuador
October 16, 2019, 1 – 5 p.m.
Location: Hatcher Gallery, Hatcher Graduate Library
Topic: How might we promote access to water for people and livestock
while discouraging deforestation?

Creating Alternatives to Payday Lending with MassMutual Foundation 
October 18, 2019, 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Location: R0320 Ross School of Business
Topic: How might we take the best components of bank, credit union, payday lenders, lending circles, etc. to create a universally easy and affordable short-term loan product?

Want to learn more? Read below…


Why do organizations participate?

Design Jam partners (or stakeholders) bring their voice and perspective at each stage of the design process. Over the course of the experience, they play a key part in the student’s learning experience and are constantly part of the action as students learn and practice design skills. This takes on multiple forms throughout the experience:

  • Be a panel discussant or presenter to launch the event
  • Provide your perspective as an expert interviewee by student teams
  • Provide feedback on ideas and directions
  • Judge the final ‘winner’


Partner organizations and stakeholders leave fueled by renewed energy and new ideas to bring back to their work.


Why do students participate?

Design Jam students come from across multiple disciplines at the University of Michigan.

  • Opportunity to interact with organizations working on complex issues. 
  • Opportunity to learn and practice design skills (interviewing, prototyping, and presenting). 
  • Get excited about how their discipline can contribute to an organization’s goals and vision to positively impact the world
  • Use design jams to help develop a portfolio 
  • Fun, fast-paced way to explore areas they are passionate about 
  • Seed a future project that is part of a larger innovation/design challenge opportunities at the University like Innovation in Action).

Testimonials from partner organizations:

  • “A client comes in with a purpose and a problem and exits with fresh perspective, new energy, and an appreciation for Michigan students and curriculum.” 
  • “The innovative, facilitated,  fast-paced small group brainstorming exercises yielded  a number of useful ideas and approaches for us to consider and pursue.”
  • “The event created a free flow of dialogue in a high energy brainstorming session provided us with validation of our new processes from an outside perspective and helped rejuvenate and affirmation certain positions and creative ideas to consider.”