Classes and Action-Learning

Mens et Manus.  Mind and Hand. MIT’s motto manifests itself strongly in the international development space through classes and extracurricular projects that focus on learning through doing.  Explore this page to learn about SEID projects and the different academic and extracurricular action-based opportunities at MIT to have a positive impact in the developing world.

Academics at Sloan are different. There are no concentrations. There are no majors. Instead, the focus is on building the fundamental skills in all areas of business to be an effective leader. Almost every class from finance, marketing, operations, communications, entrepreneurship, economics, etc. is applicable to a career in International Development. The skills and knowledge necessary to build and manage a company in the developed world are the same as those needed in International Development. In this context, the list of courses below are just a small sampling of what we learn, explore, and do at MIT Sloan. There are a plethora of such courses that you can enroll in across the MIT campus and Harvard.

Of the classes listed below, it is useful to highlight 3 types of courses that are common at MIT: classroom, action-learning, and student initiated.

Classroom based courses are taught through a mix of lecture, case, and discussion focused on helping students build a strong foundation.

The Sloan School is also committed to increasing each student’s exposure to real-world management challenges through its concept-based action learning program, in which students work with organizations around the globe to tackle real business problems and devise solutions.

Finally, each spring, MIT Sloan underwrites 4 student initiated and student led courses called Study Tours. These courses are completely designed, organized, and lead by the students but taught by Sloan faculty and guest lecturers. Limited to small groups of 15-20 students each, these courses combine an intensive 5 week classroom experience with a 2 week trip to the countries of focus where students work with organizations dealing with important global issues.


15.390 New Enterprises

The class covers the process of identifying and quantifying market opportunities, then conceptualizing, planning, and starting a new, technology-based enterprise. Topics include opportunity assessment, the value proposition, the entrepreneur, legal issues, entrepreneurial ethics, the business plan, the founding team, seeking customers and raising funds. Students develop detailed business plans for a start-up. Intended for students who want to start their own business, further develop an existing business, be a member of a management team in a new enterprise, or better understand the entrepreneur and the entrepreneurial process.

15.127J Designing and Sustaining Technology Innovation for Global Health Practice

Course trains students to think and act like global health leaders and entrepreneurs. Looks at the business of running a social venture and how to plan and provide access to life-saving medicines and essential services in international and domestic settings. Considers specific case studies for influential and leading edge technologies for health services delivery, as well as human resources, and pharmaceutical and diagnostic design in resource-poor settings. Features lectures and skills-based tutorial sessions led by industry, foundation, and academic leaders. Lectures provide the foundation for a design project that may involve creation of a market or business plan, product design specification, or research study.

15.375 J 000 Developmental Entrepreneurship

Seminar on founding, financing, and building entrepreneurial ventures in developing nations. Challenges students to craft enduring and economically viable solutions to the problems faced by these countries. Cases illustrate examples of both successful and failed businesses, and the difficulties in deploying and diffusing products and services through entrepreneurial action. Explores a range of established and emerging business models, as well as new business opportunities enabled by emerging technologies in MIT labs and beyond. Students develop a business plan executive summary suitable for submission in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition $1K Warm-Up.

15.385 000 Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship

This course offers students in teams or individually the opportunity to develop a feasibility plan for a social venture (both for profit and non profit plans are welcome) – however they must be seeking to earn a profit through service or product delivery. The course also offers a close look at the theory and practice of social innovation and entrepreneurship in the private and non-profit sectors. Some topics of discussion will include impact investing, social impact modeling, and social impact assessment. Students will gain practical knowledge on how to identify potential social venture opportunities; develop skills and competencies for creating, developing and implementing ideas; and examine ways of measuring the success and value of social entrepreneurial activity.

15.657J 000 Sustainability, Trade, and the Environment

The Schumpeterian notion of technological innovation as “the engine of growth” is being challenged as the globalization of trade is increasingly seen as the driving force of industrial economies. With the establishment of the World Trade Organization implementing the GATT, NAFTA, and other trading regimes, serious questions have been raised concerning the effects of global trade on sustainability, which must be viewed broadly to include not only a healthy economic base, but also a sound environment, stable employment, adequate purchasing power, distributional equity, national self-reliance, and maintenance of cultural integrity. Subject explores the many dimensions of sustainability and the use of national, multinational, and international political and legal mechanisms to further sustainable development.

15.971 Entrepreneurship and Prosperity in Low-income Countries

This course examines how innovations and entrepreneurship can give rise to prosperity in low-income countries. Combining historical experiences with observations of contemporary economic circumstances, it analyzes the conditions under which innovations and entrepreneurship evolve and contribute to furthering productivity, economic growth, and social progress. The course also compares innovations-based entrepreneurial approaches with other development approaches and focuses on models for creating enterprises in low-income countries. Led by faculty with entrepreneurship experience, the course explores developing effective plans for enterprise creation.

Sustainability Certificate

Building upon MIT’s distinguished accomplishments in technology, science, and social science, its tradition of interdisciplinary collaboration, and the ideal of “mens et manus” (blending “mind and hands”), the new Certificate in Sustainability views sustainability as a function of the interdependent dynamics of economic, societal, and environmental systems, where success overall is influenced by success across all areas and not upon a single factor.


15.389 Global Entrepreneurship Lab

G-Lab is the flagship international internship course at MIT Sloan. The course links teams of MIT Sloan MBA students with entrepreneurs in emerging markets from Ghana to India, Uruguay to Vietnam. The students share their knowledge, experience and research with these business owners, helping them deal with such immediate challenges as internationalization commercialization, financing, and marketing. Meanwhile, the students gain experience in global environments and put their management skills to use.

15.383 000 Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Economic Development: The Case of Puerto Rico 

15.S02 Spec Sem in Mgmt: Business Models for Scale and Sustainability in Global Health


D-Lab is a program at MIT that fosters the development of appropriate technologies and sustainable solutions within the framework of international development. D-Lab’s mission is to improve the quality of life of low-income households through the creation and implementation of low cost technologies. D-Lab’s portfolio of technologies also serves as an educational vehicle that allows students to gain an optimistic and practical understanding of their roles in alleviating poverty.

There are currently eleven different academic offerings that make up the suite of D-Lab classes, falling into the broad categories of Development, Design and Dissemination. All D-Lab courses are based on the same values and principles of providing experiential learning, using technology to address poverty, building the local creative capacity, promoting local innovation, valuing indigenous knowledge, fostering participatory development and co-creation, and building sustainable organizations and partnerships.

Student Initiated

Student initiated courses and activites change every year. To have an idea of what happened last year, follow the links

Study tours

MIT $100K

The MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition is a year-long educational experience designed to encourage students and researchers in the MIT community to act on their talent, ideas and energy to produce tomorrow’s leading firms. Now in its 20th year, the Competition has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and business startup services to outstanding teams of student entrepreneurs who submitted business plans for new ventures showing significant business potential. The refinement process of the Competition, its network of mentors, investors and potential partners, and the cash prizes awarded have helped many of these teams to act on their dreams and build their own companies and fortunes.