Facilitator: Alex Ryan
The Doctoral Symposium Workshop organized nine PhD students from three universities to review their dissertations from a systemic design perspective. An initial survey of the participants revealed that most had an extensive background in design but relatively little experience in systems theory/thinking. Therefore, a one hour lecture and facilitated discussion of systems theory were held to develop a shared understanding of systems.
Each participant provided an overview of their research, emphasizing open questions and issues rather than results and answers. At the end of each presentation, the other participants asked questions and captured insights on post-it notes, which were grouped and used as a basis for further discussion. In particular, the follow-on discussion provided constructive suggestions for integrating systems thinking and design within each dissertation. Participants were encouraged to identify linkages between the different PhD projects, which despite their different domains and focal scales, could be seen as related within the broad theme of the symposium.
Outcomes of the workshop included:
- Participants received external feedback and suggestions on their most significant open issues;
- Participants received tailored literature references and ideas for integrating systems thinking with design in their projects;
- Participants increased their understanding of systems thinking;
- Participants gained an appreciation of the research their peers are performing; and
- Participants networked with other PhD candidates.