Design For Influence

The Power of Performance

Designer. Performer. Citizen.

This Stanford Course (ME191/391) pairs design and performance theories with leading industry practices to teach students how to effectively and creatively influence others.

Course Description

So, you have an idea... or a social movement brewing! How do you engage, enlist and empower others?

You want to discover and refine your passion and message. Your idea might be a campaign, a cultural or socio political movement, or a dialogue you want to foster. Come with a hunch and we’ll help you and your team refine and articulate it.

You will draw from social science research paired with performance craft and design theory to influence others. Learn techniques to broaden your authentic behavioral range in life, and in production. Produce a user experience as an ensemble and receive coaching in design and performance to hone your message. Explore different mediums of delivery, inspired by the performance world. This production might take the form of a traditional speech, a community event, performance art, or digital video. Prototype a creative performance with a live audience of community members.

Open to Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students, Fellows, & Post-Docs. Accepting 24-36 students. Stanford students: APPLICATIONS CLOSED Course listing.

Teaching Team


Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB), Performance Artist


Stanford Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (, IDEO alum

Trained as a theatre artist in London and New York, Melissa Jones Briggs specializes in performance as a tool for social change. On Faculty at Stanford University, Melissa Jones Briggs is Lecturer at Graduate School of Business (GSB) and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design ( She is a founding member of the teaching team for the renowned Acting with Power course. She also teaches in the Stanford Executive Programs for Women Leaders and Entrepreneurs and coaches at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research. Outside academia, Melissa designs, directs & deploys global leadership and inclusion programs for corporations, NGOs, academic and federal institutions. She has taught at London Business School in the UK, Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland and the United States Naval Academy.

Jess believes the tools of design are equally powerful in grokking big systems challenges like the future of higher ed and helping individuals and teams discover the purpose that fuels their work. Jess has led design work for over a decade from healthcare to consumer products to organizational transformation. While at IDEO, her belief in applying design to tough global problems led her to spearhead the Design for Social Impact domain, which grew into, and help jumpstart a series of open-source human-centered design toolkits. Jess loves investing in the next generation of design thinkers and doers through teaching at the Stanford and launching the entrepreneurship program at a startup school in Johannesburg for young African leaders. On weekends, she can be found building rockets with two boys.


Guest Expert Coach Design for Social Change & Media NYC


Guest Expert Coach Message DesignATL


Guest Expert Coach ProductionNYC


Guest Expert Coach Performance DesignSF

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