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Ethical Practices to Guide Innovation

Learn design principles that help innovate through moral and responsible solutions.

557 enrolled on this course

Decorative image, a man and a woman wear protective clothing while working with chemicals. Aeropowder 2016
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    5 hours

Be the ethical innovator you want to see in the world

At its core, ethics is concerned with anything that can help or hinder a group’s wellbeing. It follows, then, that creativity and innovation in any industry should be subject to and guided by ethical practices and principles.

In today’s world, as new ideas are more frequent and more highly prized, it is more important than ever to be an ethical innovator. On this four-week course from the prestigious Royal College of Art (RCA) you’ll learn how to do just that.

Explore ethical design with practical examples

The course begins with detailed explanations of why being an ethical innovator is important, and insightful examples so you can see that in action.

Through real-life case studies, you’ll see how deploying social values (or ethics) can transform unethical practices across a range of different sectors.

You’ll also gain insights into how collaboration can change existing practices from unethical to ethical, and create more opportunities for creativity and innovation.

Get a close-up look at ethical practices

Throughout the course, you’ll get to apply what you’ve learnt about ethical innovation. The engaging lessons will give you the opportunity to apply design-led methods and see how they create value-led creativity.

Ultimately, you’ll see that holistic strategies are best when dealing with both ethical issues and art and design practices. Through this course, you’ll start to develop such strategies for yourself.

Benefit from RCA educators’ diverse expertise

The Royal College of Art is ideally suited to deliver this course. The institution itself a world leader in value-driven creativity and innovation, and this particular training material covers an especially wide range of topics. By the time you finish, you’ll be ready to apply ethical design principles to any project.


  • Week 1

    Creating innovation through social values, business & technology

    • Introduction to the course

      Find out about the course mission and motivation and meet the team of contributors who will be guiding you through the learning experience.

    • Social values and innovation

      This activity explores the position of the creative practices in innovation and the critical creative process they adopt that responds to social challenges through an awareness of social values.

    • Social values and business

      This activity explores examples of the transformations businesses develop when social values are used as drivers of change and innovation.

    • Technology and innovation

      Here we focus on the relationship between technology and innovation and how this relationship leverages change and transformation.

    • Disseminate and discuss

      In this final activity we would like to hear about any insights you have developed this first week, including takeaways and points of agreement/disagreement.

  • Week 2

    The impact of technology-led innovation in business

    • Introduction to Week 2

      In this activity we will reflect on the content presented in the first week. Let’s take the chance to collect our thoughts and move them to the second week.

    • Business innovation through technology and social values

      In this activity we will discuss the alignment of business values with social values and explore what framework supports this.

    • Impacts of innovation to society

      Do you think innovation has a positive or negative impact on society? We reflect on this question through a series of steps that offer different examples and experiences of innovation and its positive or negative social impacts.

    • Mitigating social and ethical issues

      In this activity we will draft a different approach to innovation, which includes social values in its process to mitigate ethical issues through and with the support of technology.

    • Disseminate and discuss

      As we come to the end of our second week we would like you to tell us about any insights you have developed this week, including highlights and points of agreement/disagreement.

  • Week 3

    Methodologies for fostering value-led innovation

    • Introduction to Week 3

      This short activity is a space for us to reflect and remind ourselves what has happened in the first two weeks and use these to move our conversations to the third week of the course.

    • Strategies to identify innovation

      In this activity we describe how a social values mindset can turn limitations and issues into opportunities through the understanding of the relations defining an innovation ecosystem.

    • Methods to align objectives through values

      Explore methods that can stimulate an alignment of objectives in society, technology and businesses for generating innovation. We will use methods that stem from design research and social science.

    • Design-led strategies

      In this section we will explore design-led strategies that deploy social values to stimulate and construct alignments of objectives.

    • A culture of value-led innovation

      Here we discuss how to stimulate a culture of value-led innovation that is informed by creative practices.

    • Disseminate and discuss

      Share any insights you have developed this third week, including highlights and points of agreement/disagreement.

  • Week 4

    A culture of value-led innovation

    • Introduction to Week 4

      Let's review Week 3 and reflect on what we have achieved and learnt in the course so far.

    • Defining a model for value-led leadership

      In this activity we present ideas that help to construct a model of leadership able to support a value-led innovation. This includes examining the principles and skills a value-led leader should develop and nurture.

    • The role and value of people

      In this activity we will be focusing on people and how we can foster a value-led leadership by zooming in on skills and practices that stimulate and influence interaction, attitudes and behaviour.

    • Design strategies to generate value-led leadership

      Here we discuss what factors can further develop a culture of value-led leadership. We will look back at the qualities that underpin such a model and how this can be fostered across a company or team.

    • A model of governance

      This activity looks at a model of governance that can further define leadership by underpinning any leading principles or guidelines.

    • Reflect and discuss

      Share any insights you have developed this fourth and final week, including any highlights and points of agreement/disagreement.

    • Final discussion and conclusion

      As the course draws to a close, we would like to hear your thoughts about the past four weeks. We will also summarise the final key learnings from the course.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify ways in which values and technology can influence innovation and transformations in the professional world.
  • Analyse the impacts of innovation and identify what ethical issues emerge that can misalign businesses from their values.
  • Apply design-led methods and creative thinking to develop a culture of value-led innovation able to transform ethical issues into opportunities.
  • Develop holistic and heuristic strategies to tackle ethical issues that are informed by practices in art and design.

Who is the course for?

This postgraduate-level course is designed for anyone who works or would like to work as an innovator and is interested in exploring ethical practices in their industry. Learners may come from diverse sectors and professions, including, but not limited to, engineering, healthcare, charities and small tech start-ups.

Who will you learn with?

Hello! I am an interdisciplinary researcher and designer and my work explores inter and cross-disciplinary collaborative methodologies for fostering inclusive, accessible and ethical innovation.

Hello, I am a PhD Candidate at the RCA School of Design. I'm interested in gender, humanitarianism and feminism. I also have been trained as a Product Designer Engineer.

Who developed the course?

Royal College of Art

The Royal College of Art is the world’s leading university of art and design. A small, specialist and research-intensive postgraduate university based in London, the RCA provides over 2,000 students with unrivalled opportunities to deliver art and design projects that transform the world.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
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Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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