Participatory Design Curriculum

MIT D-Lab partnered with the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) to develop a tailored design curriculum and to train ANDE global staff on D-Lab's participatory design methodology as part of ANDE’s Gender Equality Initiative (AGEI). 
macbook pro displaying group of people
macbook pro displaying group of people
At the heart of AGEI, were the Gender Action Labs. Made up of regional ecosystem actors and convened over 9-12 months in parallel in all eight of ANDE’s regional chapters, the Labs convened practitioners to spark actionable regional and local collaborations to promote experimentation around solutions to systems-level challenges towards SDG 5 goals.
D-Lab designed the Action Lab curriculum to follow D-Lab’s 4-stage design rhythm of Learn, Imagine, Create and Test and incorporated Participatory Design tools to support the Action Labs in systematic problem-solving that actively engages those experiencing the problem.
Key Pivots
  • Originally designed to be an in person training, the curriculum and delivery model evolved due to COVID to be a longer, virtual training. At the beginning of this transition to virtual, I took over as project manager and supported with curriculum development
  • Recognizing differing comfort degrees with facilitation, D-Lab recommended that ANDE hire outside facilitation support for the Action Labs so that the ANDE staff could focus on learning through observation to be able to be more confident in applying the methods for future Labs.
  • During Learn stage, simplified curriculum and number of exercises from original training and introduced Mural board.


Each of the 8 regional Action Lab’s produced ready-to-fund prototypes to pitch for seed funding support. Prototypes ranged from building investment readiness programs to mentorship community platforms and designing a gender bias diagnostic toolkit.
ANDE is using the D-Lab program as a prototype of a central, consistent, and sustainable model that can be replicated in ANDE’s other top issue areas including climate change and workforce development.
Surveyed by D-Lab, throughout the length of the engagement, ANDE staff self-reported growth in learning about participatory methods and advancing their skillset in collaborating and working with diverse group of stakeholders.



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