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Design for Extreme Affordability

Design for Extreme Affordability is a graduate course offered by Stanford University which tasks students with solving the resource problems of the developing world. Students are asked to design products and services that will change the lives of the world’s poorest citizens.

The coursework takes the students through all the steps necessary to make change: design, marketing, team­ building, testing and implementation. So far, students have worked on 120 projects in 27 countries. DEA is team ­taught by diverse faculty from the schools of engineering, business and other fields as the emphasis at Design for Extreme Affordability has always been on creating products and services that can be fully realized.

In its 13­-year history, the class and its alums have given rise to a number of game­ changing innovations and organizations. Many of its students continue working after the conclusion of the class to fully develop their designs into solutions.

Design for Extreme Affordability has been a pioneer in the teaching of socially responsible design in several respects:

First, it places an emphasis on implementation. Being able to write a proposal or a marketing plan wouldn’t traditionally be considered ‘design.’ But it is part of the process of moving from the design studio to field implementation. Students who wish to make real change must look at the problem from multiple angles.

Second, Design for Extreme Affordability is fully based on a multi­disciplinary approach. The course is taught by a diverse group of Stanford faculty led by Jim Patell (engineering, business), Dave Beach (mechanical engineering), Stuart Coulson (business) and Julian Gorodsky (psychology).