Why take openlab’s PHD course?

Bridging Science and Societal Needs through Design Thinking is an interdisciplinary PhD course focusing on design thinking methodology as support for innovation and development in science and society.

The course is open for all PhD students from Openlab’s four partner universities – Karolinska Institutet, (KTH) Royal Institute of Technology, Södertörn University and Stockholm University. It is led by professors and lecturers representing each of the universities and will create conditions for doctoral students to connect and collaborate across disciplines and research fields.

“Design thinking is a systematic, human-centered approach to solving complex problems within all aspects of life.”

Hasso Plattner Institute Academy, 2019

Bridging Science and Societal Needs aims to introduce Design thinking methodology and provide practical applications of Design thinking in improvement work and in research within complex contexts. The course entails a problem oriented teaching a learning style, where students are provided with a pedagogy that enables them to take active responsibility for individual and group learning. An aim of the course is to support the participants in developing knowledge, skill sets and approaches valuable in their doctoral studies, and create new pathways for science to impact complex societal challenges and meet societal needs.

PHD Course


Module 1 – An introduction to Design thinking
Module 2 – Practical application of Design thinking in improvement work
Module 3 – Design thinking and innovation within research

What do our previous PhD-students say?
See the video with some of Openlab’s PhD alumni.


Submit your application to one the the participating universities: KTH, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholms University or Södertörn University (see application details). For general questions about the course contact Mats Danielson.

Course details

Next start period: Spring 2024 (March 13 – May 22)
Level: PhD
Credits: 4.5
Study pace: Ca 20%, 2nd half of semester
Language: English
Qualifications: Admitted to PhD education with an activity rate of 50% or more.
Location: Online

Dates for spring semester 2024:
Wedesdays, March 13th and 20th, April 10th and 17th, May 8th and 22nd

Applications are to be submitted to one of the participating universities.

Course syllabus & contacts

Karolinska Institutet
Course syllabus: ki.se
Contact: Sofia Vikström, sofia.vikstrom@ki.se

KTH, Royal Institute of Technology
Course syllabus: kth.se
Contact: Jens Hemphälä, hemphala@kth.se

Stockholm University
Course syllabus: su.se
Contact: Mats Danielson, mats.danielson@su.se

Södertörn University
Contact: Martin Jonsson, martin.jonsson@sh.se