Authors: Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer, Tyler Key, Giedre Kligyte, Bridget Malcolm, Prasuna Reddy & Clementine Thurgoo
In order for universities to flourish, we need to ensure that their staff and students are well mentally, physically and socially. Improving wellbeing is an open, systemic and complex challenge, because it contains many interrelated and dynamic problems and concerns. Such challenges cannot be ‘solved’ by using traditional and reductionist problem-solving strategies. In this paper we demonstrate how we worked towards an integrated systemic design and transdisciplinary innovation approach to improve the wellbeing of staff and students at the University of Technology Sydney. We developed a systemic vision of university wellbeing which considers wellbeing a characteristic of the community as a whole, and an integral part of education and research, rather than an issue that needs to be addressed by a separate ‘service’. The transdisciplinary and systemic design approach is further characterised by an ongoing evolutionary action-approach; an integration of diverse ways of knowing including various academic disciplines, Indigenous ways of knowing and community knowledge; and a structured learning strategy to support system change based on mutual learning and reflexivity. We discuss how this case illustrates how transdisciplinary learning approaches can strengthen systemic design practices.