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Campus scenes from November 2, 2018, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

(Photo by Jon Gardiner)

Grad certificate preps students to innovate for public good

A new nine-credit-hour program will launch in spring 2021, teaching design thinking skills for solving complex problems across diverse fields of research and practice.

The Carolina Graduate Certificate in Innovation for the Public Good will help students practice the skills they need to collaborate with others, partner with governments and communities, and tackle challenges in new ways.

Innovate Carolina, UNC’s campuswide initiative for innovation and entrepreneurship, worked to develop the certificate in partnership with three sponsoring academic units that will administer the certificate on a rotating basis. It will be administered by the Gillings School of Global Public Health for the first four years. It will then rotate to the College of Arts & Sciences’ public policy department for four years, followed by a rotation at the School of Education.

Open to masters and doctoral students in any of the University’s graduate programs, the program will give students experience with methods that they can apply immediately to their thesis or dissertation work. The certificate also equips students with career-ready skills they can use when working on multidisciplinary teams in businesses, nonprofits and government agencies that increasingly demand the ability to apply cross-sector, community-engaged practices.

The certificate’s courses offered across departments and schools will resonate strongly with students enrolled in a variety of programs who are interested in making a positive public impact, said Dan Gitterman, Duncan MacRae ’09 and Rebecca Kyle MacRae Professor and chair of the public policy department.

“UNC public policy faculty and students are all about the public good. They and many of our colleagues and peers in other graduate programs in the College are focused on researching and addressing our most pressing national and global challenges,” Gitterman said.