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While Silicon Valley has had tremendous entrepreneurial success in digital technology, the areas related to planet health and societal health have not received the attention they deserve.  Moreover, our systems, culture, and processes of entrepreneurship such as ownership, governance and capital, need to evolve to serve the 21st century needs of diversity, equity, inclusion, and sustainability. We hope our educational efforts will be a step towards that change. We develop and offer new courses and co-curricular programs, and also contribute to existing Stanford courses offered by our collaborators across campus.

Our first course (BIOE 394: Innovate for Planet Health) was launched in Spring 2021.  In this speaker-series course, we seek to inspire and educate graduate students with scientific and technology backgrounds to tackle the global challenges in the health of society and the planet. We introduce systems thinking alongside opportunities to innovate, and we discuss the importance of having early consideration of  “impact” criteria alongside financial criteria in entrepreneurship. Our guest speakers are entrepreneurs and leaders who are converting promising research into real-world impact in the areas of carbon capture and storage, plastics recycling, sustainable food production, and alternative energy. Students do research on a problem of their choice in the Planet and Societal Health field. They perform System Analysis on the problem and give a brief presentation to the class on their research and opportunities to make a difference. 

Read students' course reflections 

We also started contributing to existing Stanford courses offered by our internal collaborators across campus, through guest lectures and co-teaching, as well as by sourcing problems, sponsors and mentors for experiential courses.

Our next course is an experiential, project-based course, called BIOE 375: Biodesign and Entrepreneurship for Societal Health, offered in collaboration with Stanford Biodesign in Spring 2022. 

Addressing the social and environmental drivers of health is a new frontier of innovation to improve global and public health at scale and to tackle the major health burdens we are facing in society, such as chronic diseases, mental health crises and violence, food insecurity and malnutrition, misinformation, and growing inequalities. 

In this class, graduate students will learn about the scientific and economic opportunities unique to innovating in these problem areas. During our interactive, project-based course, over 40 expert guest speakers and mentors, including inspiring social entrepreneurs, impact investors, researchers, and global health leaders, will share their journeys and how their work addresses societal health challenges. The guest speakers we have invited to our class come from the following organizations:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Zuckerberg Chan Initiative
  • Verily
  • Healthtech for Medicaid (HTFM)
  • Flourish Labs
  • Health equity start-ups, including Equalize Health, Step One Foods, Emme, Simprints, Nana Academy        
  • California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)
  • Stanford Medicine
  • And more!

In addition to lectures and discussions about important topics like global health, the social determinants of health, and the impact of climate change on health, students will learn through experience. They will learn by doing, through a team-based project that will be developed throughout the course. The experiential component of this course is about rolling up your sleeves, forming teams, researching and reframing societal health problems, and developing technology solutions to such issues. Students will interview stakeholders and potential customers, generate insights on the problems they are tackling, conduct brainstorming and ideation sessions, develop product mock-ups, and test their solutions to develop a product or service that people want, and that society needs. They will do so by using the biodesign innovation process. To apply for our new Spring 2022 course, please complete the online application by March 20. Enrollment will be capped at 25 students and applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so we encourage you to apply early.

We are grateful to the Ethics, Society, & Technology Hub for selecting Emergence as one of the 2021-22 curriculum development grant award recipients.

Our first co-curricular program for the Stanford community has been launched during the 2021-22 academic year, to engage and grow a cross-sector collective of purpose-driven innovators and leaders.