PhD Course

Bridging Science and Societal Needs - Explore how your research can make greater societal impact through design methods.


Why take Openlab’s PhD Course?

Bridging Science and Societal Needs through Design Thinking is a new 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, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), 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.


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, and read the student feedback from the previous course.


Openlab focuses on challenges in four main areas: sustainable urban development, future healthcare, education and the ageing population.


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

Start period: Spring 2023
Level: PhD
Credits: 4,5
Study pace: Ca 20%, 2nd half of semester
Daytime: Wednesdays, ca. 9.00-16.00 hrs
Language: English
Qualifications: 180 credits + registered as PhD-student
Location: Online