Be Part of a Better Economy

The orthodoxy in startups is "focus on growth"—but often that means sacrificing everything meaningful in the name of growth. There's a way to combat this: get specific about what's meaningful, and learn to replicate that, not just what drives growth.

The School for Social Design is an action-oriented, deeply-personalized way to learn new skills to design for meaning and to prototype interpersonal experiences.

Current Students

Adam Morris

Adam Morris

A PhD researcher at Harvard, working on new formats for scientific collaboration.

Chet Corcos

Chet Corcos

Alternative organizations for making software. Previously, first hire at Notion.

Stephany Zoo

Stephany Zoo

A repeat founder and executive, working on new ways to integrate death in support groups and medical insitutions.

Jason Benn

Jason Benn

Previously, AI research. Now prototying physical communities and large-scale cohousing.

More current students—from Google, Mozilla, and various startups—will be listed soon.

Deeply Personalized

In our course, everything starts with your projects—things you want to get done, or ship, in the next few months.

We make a custom roadmap for your course, focused on giving you new skills and mentors, just when you need them. You'll likely spend a month learning to interview people about values and to write your own values precisely. Then comes design techniques, sketches, and prototypes. Finally, you'll write up your findings and redesigns, and present them to people you admire in your fields.

To make it all go smoothly, you get a personal guide who monitors your project, understands how you work, and arranges mentors for your new skills, just-in-time, as you need them.

See an example roadmap, or read about all of our practices.

Action-oriented

Metrics and goals are actionable and provide clear targets: a metric is either hit or not; a goal is achieved or not. Compared to this, values usually seem sloppy. Our rigorous definition of values puts them on even footing with goals and metrics. You can hold your designs to a new standard.

New Skills

A better economy would put meaning above engagement numbers, and would design for interpersonal connection, not the isoolated experience of an individual. To build that new economy, we need to get scientific about meaning, and upgrade our design skills. We need new ways to prototype, new ways to interview users and customers, and new arguments to justify decisions.

Why Values?

People use “values” to mean different things. In common speech, values are often abstract ideas, like equality, freedom, inclusiveness, or decentralization.

What we mean by values, are the ways of being and relating that feel meaningful to a person. Like kicking ass, being vulnerable, being creative, or taking stage. How does the person want to live and to relate with others? How do they love being, with their friends, family, living situation, or work?

Values, in this sense, are why we start organizations and build products. They're what our life and work are about. So, it's a shame when our organizations or products succeed on goals or metrics, but fail on values.

Goals.

You thought starting a company would be an adventure for your team, but your org processes lead to bureacracy, not adventure.

Metrics.

You wanted your product to help users be creative, but to drive DAUs, it's become an infinite scroller, and people regret using it.

Visions.

You wanted to decentralize finance to empower people. You decentralized finance. Are people empowered?

We address these problem in the course. By learning to define and measure values rigorously. And (because designs often fail for values due to hard-to-predict, second-order effects), we learn to predict those effects and design with them in mind.

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$23003 months @ 4h/week
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The Textbook

Throughout the program, we follow the Values-Based Social Design textbook, which you can access for free. (But we recommend the personalized version of the course.)

What Do Students Say?

Ryan
Stephany
Ari
Wiley

Our Team

Joe Edelman
Joe Edelman
founder
Joe is the entrepreneur behind the School for Social Design, and wrote most of the textbook. He coined the term “Time Well Spent” which was adopted as a guiding light in metrics by teams at Facebook, Google, and Apple, and has led to many product and ranking changes.
Anne Selke
Anne Selke
mentor
Anne has a background in organizational psychology, creative writing, game design, and design thinking. She specializes in tracing people's hard-earned wisdom and how they grow, and in tracking what practices work in what contexts.
Nathan Vanderpool
Nathan Vanderpool
mentor
Nathan has a PhD in Sociology and a speciality in redesigning faith-based and wisdom-based organizations, org processes, and rituals.
Ben Gabbai
Ben Gabbai
guide
Ben is a scholar of Talmud and Jewish Thought. He is hands-on about education, holding a B. Ed., teaching 4th grade and homeschooling with his wife. He enjoys reading other old books too, especially about philosophy.
Jakob Wolski
Jakob Wolski
guide
Jakob is a bodyworker and student of anthropology and religious science. He's nerdy about people, design theory and community. In his free time he likes to tell stories and visualize human values.​
Serj Hunt
Serj Hunt
mentor
Serj creates learning spaces where the norms and interactions around pedagogy, curriculums, environments and assessments are quite different.

Learn more

About the Program
Philosophical Background
History of the School
Compare with Other Design Methods

FAQ

What about teams?Contact us!
I have more questions!Visit our extended FAQ here.

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$23003 months @ 4h/week
Have Teaor jump to the application