What is the Design Thinking Challenge?

Design thinking is a process—applicable to all disciplines—of generating new and innovative ideas and developing solutions to problems.

This funded opportunity for students brings together teams of four to six people from a range of majors to: 

  • Research a problem proposed by a campus community partner

  • Identify a facet of the problem to investigate more deeply

  • Develop ideas that they can share with the community to gain a more complex understanding of possible solutions

  • Build and test models of their most promising ideas

Teams work closely with their campus community partner throughout the program and present their findings in a public forum at the end of the spring semester.

Challenge projects have open-ended goals, allowing teams the flexibility to come up with their own innovative solution to address any aspect of the problem they identify related to the challenge. Teams will ideally be highly interdisciplinary and passionate about delving deep into their challenge problem. Part of their work will include identifying the “grey areas” of challenges and proposing ideas that could potentially bring about a positive change in the existing system.

Program Timeline

The Design Thinking Challenge program will be held June 10-28, 2019

To be considered for a project team, you must be able to commit full-time to the entire three week summer session. Teams will also be expected to present their work to the campus community in the Fall of 2019 (although exceptions can be made if students will be going abroad).

Program participants will receive room and board on campus for the duration of the program, and will receive additional compensation for their time.

How To Apply

The 2019 Design Thinking Challenge application is now closed.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Megan Lyster at mlyster@amherst.edu


“The Design Thinking Challenge has transformed my perception of Amherst, myself, and how I work on projects. The skills that the Design Thinking Challenge taught us would be invaluable to any Amherst student. This is what a liberal arts education is all about. Developing intuition, sensitivity, insight, awareness, and innovation.”

- 2018 DTC Participant

Design Thinking Challenge logo

Become a more creative problem solver!

“I was able to see the value in approaching problems from different angles and perspectives. I gained comfort in spaces of ambiguity and learned to appreciate the process.”  – 2018 DTC Participant