+Impact Studio


Creating a better world by design

Do you want to harness the power of design and business to develop impactful solutions to global challenges and then step into the world with a powerful social innovation skill-set? The +Impact Studio translates faculty research insights into real-world applications that address wicked problems. (Wicked problems are issues with societal import, that are difficult to understand, and are embedded within complex systems.) 

The +Impact Studio teaches interdisciplinary student teams (e.g., MBAs, MSWs, MPH, MEng) how to effectively use scholarly intellectual capital, business acumen and design methodologies to start addressing wicked problems. There is a trove of such capital within the University, and the +Impact Studio seeks to put to work on the pressing problems of our generation.

The work of the Studio is expressed in three key ways: 

  • The +Impact Studio Course
  • The +Impact Studio Space, and 
  • +Impact Studio Events & Speakers


+Impact Studio Course

In this innovative course model, you’ll learn how to address a wicked problem using scholarly research, design methodologies, and business acumen. The skills you’ll develop are both rare and in-demand with top employers, and key to tackling big societal challenges. Your interdisciplinary graduate student team made up of MBAs, MSWs, MPPs, MEds, MUPs, etc. will translate research into impactful applications through the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The 4.5 credit Winter 2020 course teaches ideation, prototyping, and business model design skills to address two design challenges:

  • How might we use research insights and fintech to address financial inclusion and poverty alleviation?
  • How might we improve water systems and other vulnerable infrastructure using research and intellectual capital? 

NOTE: Students can elect to take either the Fall or Winter course. During the Fall semester students learn discovery tools to identify and research the right problem, and students in the Winter semester build on the deliverables from the Fall to develop impactful applications.


Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, +Impact Studio Faculty Director

The +Impact Studio Faculty Director provides leadership in developing strategic direction to foster and leverage internal and external relations with student clubs, units around campus, executive education clients, and alumni. Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks is a Behavioral Scientist and Professor of Management and Organizations at the Ross School of Business. He received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology with training in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan. His research and teaching focus on the social process of designing and implementing desired futures.

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As business students, we tend to think of the customer/stakeholder. Through the +Impact Studio course I am learning to ask “who else might the stakeholder interact with?” and “where in that ecosystem might interventions be implemented?"

— Gautam Kadlikar (MBA ‘20)

+Impact Studio Space

The +Impact Studio is a collaboration space and an educational community passionate about design for impact. It serves as a campus hub for design and impact. It also engages with community organizations and companies which seek to apply faculty insights and design tools to advance their impact. Throughout the year, the +Impact Studio hosts interactive workshops, charrettes, design jams, and guest speakers.