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Washington DC

Defining new trajectories in systemic design

Discovering new perspectives on old entanglements within the larger framings provided by the entanglements—to situate systemic design and designers within the interconnected questions, patterns, and impacts that are shaping the emergent systems reconfiguring our world.


Artificial Intelligence is on everyone’s mind, and the disruptions it portends justify that attention. However, AI, in all its manifestations, is just one of a collection of emerging technologies (quantum computing, nanotechnologies, CRISPR, etc.) that will have profound and destabilising effects on humanity. We aim to further discussions about technologies that are on the horizon and what futures they make possible — or impossible. Where should we place boundaries around technological development and adoption? What limits do we need to redefine? What processes should we use to set these boundaries?


Climate change has been with us for generations, but its long-anticipated consequences are finally being felt. While optimism about the possibility of mitigating the worst impacts of climate change should be a foundation of all work in this area, we also need to reckon with the reality that our world still lacks the structures and will to undo the damage we have already done to our planet and to acknowledge that the worst of those impacts are being felt by those least responsible. For these reasons, we are particularly interested in work that addresses the short- and medium-term impacts of climate change at local scales (household, neighbourhood, region), identifies and empowers communities that face the worst impacts, and offers transposable solutions for sustaining life amid profound environmental disruptions.


No discussion of emergence in systems is complete without an understanding of the regulatory apparatus that shapes it — both from the external environment and from internal constraints. The power to influence emergence is not evenly distributed, but aggregated in localities of control. These leverage points have outsized effects, and deserve particular attention. What rules and regulations are having the most impact? Which need to be replaced and what should replace them? How do we identify leverage points, excavate their influence, and demonstrate their potential? How can the balance of power be shifted?


As systemic design continues to emerge from the interaction of theories and methods in systems thinking and design, we must pay special attention to how these theories and methods shape our understanding of the world, the development of the field, and systemic design’s relationship to other disciplines. Submissions in this track should address some aspect of a foundational or fundamental element of systemic design. Examples include: interrogating a concept or method from a new perspective, introducing a concept or method from another discipline, and exposing the limits or possibilities of existing theories and methods.

Our entanglement is both a source of confusion and a source of power.

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RSD12-WASHINGTON DC was hosted by Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture and Technology Program (CCT) and the Iteration Lab, a transdisciplinary laboratory for the design and analysis of iterative methods.

Evan Barba |

J.R. Osborn |

Ella Csarno |

Talks: Washington DC

Talks: Washington DC

Michael Arnold Mages, Catherine Kennedy, and Joli Holmes | Victor Udoewa | Angelsea Saby | Peter Stoyko

Talks: Policy

Talks: Policy

Helen Avery | Greg van Alstyne | Thomas Maiorana and Patrick Little | Gayatri Menon | Erin McAuliffe | Judith Mühlenhoff | Tabea Glahs, Maria Haukali and Marcela Urbano | Juan P. Velásquez, Åsa Ståhl, Mathilda Tham, Yanki Lee and Tobias Svanberg
| Linda Blaasvær and Tore Gulden

Talks: Case Studies

Talks: Case Studies

Katherine Gillieson and Howsem Huang | Lewis Muirhead and Ryan Murphy | Gryphon Theriault-Loubier | Celiane Camargo Borges and Licia Calvi | Nadiya Safonova, Sonia Chwalek, Anastasia Chebakova, Megan Strazds-Esenbergs, Flynn Gottselig, and Jeannie Dempster


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