Using an interdisciplinary approach, the UC Davis D-Lab works with communities to address global challenges in energy, agriculture, and the environment. Students and staff work toward solutions to these challenges through experiential courses, international satellites, global outreach, and research.
D-Lab offers a variety of client-focused, project-based courses at UC Davis open to both undergraduate and graduate students. In these courses, students work on real projects to perform feasibility studies then design, build, and test prototypes using technical, social, environmental, and economic lenses. Students gain a professional-grade consulting experience through collaboration in multidisciplinary teams to meet the satisfaction of real clients both international and domestic. Hands-on labs, case studies, and guest speakers focus on user-centered and market-based design approaches.
Over time, the D-Lab project based course model has gained global attention. Working with international organizations, the D-Lab team works with partners remotely and onsite to facilitate workshops and trainings for educators on the implementation of project based, client-focused courses. Resulting from high interest, D-Lab, in collaboration with the UC Davis Horticulture and Innovation Lab, created an online toolkit which serves as a database of free, downloadable curriculum to equip any instructor with the resources needed to teach a project-based, client-centered course.
A central tenant of the D-Lab is global engagement. In D-Lab courses at UC Davis, students have the opportunity to work with international clients, gaining a global education at home. These projects also engage global leaders empowering and providing them with the resources to address pressing issues in their own communities. The D-Lab supports many students in executing projects abroad; D-Lab students have worked onsite with clients in the Republic of Georgia, Sierra Leon, Uruguay, Nicaragua, and more. In addition to global work with students at UC Davis, the D-Lab also engages international Hubert H. Humphrey and Mandela-Washington Fellows in exploration modules and mentorship during their time at UC Davis.
D-Lab students and associated faculty work to disseminate best practices in the areas of education, energy, agriculture, and the environment.