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The Stuart Weitzman School of Design now offers the Executive Program in Design for Sustainability to make climate change adaptation more accessible for students. Credit: Jesse Zhang

The Stuart Weitzman School of Design created a new online program to encourage architects and other designers to incorporate climate action into their professional careers. 

The program — titled the Executive Program in Design for Sustainability (XDS) — is designed to make climate change adaptation access easier and support the “global transition” to net-zero buildings, according to Penn Almanac. The program spans seven months and includes traditional courses like “Fundamentals of Bioclimatic Design” and skill-based courses like “Daylighting Simulation Basics” and “Energy Modeling Basics.” Electives include courses such as “Biophilic Design.”

Architect Rob Fleming, the director of online innovation at Weitzman and the president of the Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Architects, said that XDS is more accessible to students under budget or time constraints than a traditional degree program. 

“Architects and designers have a major role to play in the response to climate change,” Fleming told Penn Almanac. “Many people in my field, including some very accomplished professionals, want to do more but simply don’t know how to get started. This program was created for them.”

After students complete their coursework, XDS ends with a three-week mini-design studio where students incorporate a current project from their work into their projects. Upon completion, they will earn an Executive Certificate in Design for Sustainability from Penn and digital badges for each course they complete. The course also counts towards the AIA's Health, Safety, and Welfare units.

The cost for the XDS program depends on whether learners elect to complete the program in a traditional cohort or as a self-paced experience. The asynchronous program costs $4,200, while the cohort experience is priced at $3,565.

“Regardless of what pacing a learner in the XDS program chooses, the objective is for the principles to be applied to actual projects in the real world,” Fleming said. 

The Weitzman School established the XDS program amid several other existing executive programs catered towards architects, planners, and other professionals interested in design, according to Penn Almanac. Weitzman’s other programs include the Executive Program in Design Leadership and the Executive Program in Social Innovation Design.