Building Businesses for Responsible Futures

Spring Open
Class Standing
Taki Hirakawa

Technology is now influencing our lives at a level that is unprecedented. Many problems have emerged with the rise of new media and frontier technologies, from effects on our individual mental health, manipulative product recommendations, social influence on individual beliefs, to unethical use of generative AI-based chatbots to unknowingly abuse copyright of other digital artists’ original contents. This course asks students to consider strategic foresights for our evolving society and businesses, and identify underlying problems in different types of platforms, content, and services. In this highly interactive class, we will be exploring how to predict and invent the future where interactions between individuals can happen via real self as well as via digital representation in the online world. Our goal will be to design responsible businesses that can build customer and employee trust and give power back to people and nature.

Traditionally, customer discovery centers on individual user experience. In this class, we are looking at the ways in which user experience can help us identify the problems in which participant behavior, culture, and complex systems of platform, content, services, are the medium of solution design. In this experiential class, students are encouraged to explore how we interact with these systems on the psychological and social level.

This class will ask students enrolled in 8-credits to build multi-disciplinary teams from all fields to collaborate and develop a new business from the ground-up by applying a super-interdisciplinary design approach to see through wicked problems and come up with innovative solutions. How might we reimagine an online grocery shopping experience that appeals to our better natures than Amazon or Instacart does today? How might we design a stock trading product like Robinhood that avoids the mass purchase of worthless stock? Working under the guidance of coaches and entrepreneurs, student teams will choose a project topic that falls in the broad set of issues so that they can leverage their journey into an industry area of their interest — topics may include Climate and Environmental Resilience, Food Transformation, Serious Games for Societal Impacts, Wellness and Disability Resilience, and Learning Transformation. Students will invent novel solution concepts that leverage tech and prototype solutions and explore customer value propositions and business models, all while gaining fluency in the behavioral and cultural principles that might shed light on how these tools can be applied to the work of responsible innovation. Our class will culminate with a series of fast pitches to industry executives to present the startups students worked on during the program.

To successfully participate in this program, a student needs a computer and internet access. Students enrolled at 8 credits should expect 8 additional hours of Zoom and other instructional activities, including collaborative group work - synchronous and asynchronous, field work, videos or podcasts. In addition to the above work, students enrolled at 12 credits should expect 4 additional hours of instructional activities including lab groups or seminar-oriented activities where we will further develop communication skills, presentation skills, critical-thinking skills, and learn how to leverage frontier technologies and scale responsible innovations.


Course Reference Numbers
(8): 30197
(4): 30332
(12): 30333

Academic Details

Business, Entrepreneurship, Product Design, Interactive Media, User Experience (UX) Research, Social Marketing, Digital Marketing, Strategic Branding, Business Social Media, Corporate Innovation, Teaching, Digital Business Strategy, Interactive Technology, Marketing Consulting


Remote (S)

See definition of Hybrid, Remote, and In-Person instruction

Schedule Details