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Monterrey, Mexico

Participatory ecosystems—humanity, health, habitus

Ecosystems are dynamic and complex creations, with systems and subsystems comprised of individuals and organisations, resources, networks, and institutions interconnected in the pursuit of social, economic, and environmental goals. Positive attributes of an ecosystem are collaboration, learning, and stakeholder participation, along with evidence of experimentation, co-creation, and iteration; however, ecosystems face challenges such as exclusivity, fragmentation, unmet needs, lack of resources for social innovation, inadequate policy or uncertain governance, and resistance to change. At the heart of these systemic challenges, there is a central necessity for participation—engagement of public stakeholders in co-creating the emergence of collective well-being. Participatory ecosystems strive to optimise the potential for innovation while addressing challenges by prioritising emic approaches and engaging diverse stakeholders in decision-making processes, problem-solving, and implementation of solutions. Unsurprisingly, complexity abounds in ecosystems, encountering all of RSD12’s entanglements: technology, environment, policy and power, and foundational.

Massive changes are converging in the Latin American world, with the potential for new economic, geopolitical, and technological developments in societal systems. An inspiring position for the participatory ecosystems focus is proposed from the recent article by the Dean and professors of the hosting School of Art, Architecture and Design, in which an organic Mexi-futurism is proposed as a pathway to connect rich cultural traditions and design-led innovation, creating the conditions and platform for cross-cultural dialogues, an evolving design culture, and design practices in academia and regional innovators and institutions to participate. (Iñiguez Flores et al., 2019)

Considering the world-building scale of the cultural evolution of large cities such as Monterrey affords a liminal opportunity to invite participants from multiple sectors into the co-creation of ecosystems that foster these cultures, well-being, and a renewed sense of place. We might envision a large space of societal design for humanity, health, and habitus—through steering participatory ecosystems, an imperative put forward by systems scholar Béla Bánáthy. Faced with a massive evolutionary transformation, with a change in the nature of change itself, we must recognize that incremental adaptation or restructuring of our existing systems is not working for us. We must realize we have to transform our systems—we have to become homo gubernator so that we can steer our fate and shape our future. (Bánáthy, 1997) To create this new paradigm of sustainability, requires changing the unsustainable mind that we have inherited from our culture and the industrial revolution of the last two centuries. The work of evolutionary leaders is multidimensional, it requires leadership development as well as organizational learning and evolution. (Manga & Hollenhorst, 2004)


  1. Banathy, Bela H. (1997). Designing social systems for a changing world. New York: Plenum Publishing.
  2. Iñiguez Flores, R., Morán, R. M. L. & Ruano, D. S. (2019). Mexi-futurism: The transitorial path between tradition and innovation. Strategic Design Research Journal, 12(02), 222-234. DOI:10.4013/sdrj.2019.122.08
  3. Manga, M & Hollenhorst, T. (2004). Evolutionary Leadership for Building Sustainable Organizations. Center for Evolutionary Leadership & People.
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Tecnológico de Monterrey is exploring participatory ecosystems and the discovery of research and design approaches that apply systemic design to placemaking and social innovation in ecosystems.


Emanuele Giorgi
David Sanchez Ruano
Peter Jones

In 2023, the evolving Mexican context disclosed by Tecnológico de Monterrey created a significant opportunity for these ideas and conversations to take place in the participatory ecosystem afforded by RSD12. Tecnológico de Monterrey initiated DistritoTec in 2012 in response to escalating urban decline and community safety in the area. An urban regeneration and innovation initiative, DistritoTec has developed from an ongoing collaboration between citizens, government, and non-governmental organisations. Today, DistritoTec is a Monterrey city improvement district recognised for blending urban regeneration and sustainability with citizen engagement and a high level of accessibility (Gaxiola-Beltrán et al., 2022). It is also a Global Network innovation district, and in 2022, Tec announced the construction of Expedition, an innovation and entrepreneurship building.


Gaxiola-Beltrán, A.L., Narezo-Balzaretti, J., Ramírez-Moreno, M.A., Pérez-Henríquez, B.L., Ramírez-Mendoza, R.A., Krajzewicz, D., Lozoya-Santos, J.d.J. (2021). Assessing Urban Accessibility in Monterrey, Mexico: A Transferable Approach to Evaluate Access to Main Destinations at the Metropolitan and Local Levels. Appl. Sci. 2021, 11, 7519.

Global Institute on Innovation Districts. (n.d.). The Ambition.

Talks: Design Research

Talks: Design Research

Hillary Carey and Jessica Meharry | Irem Tekogul | Palak Dudani and Karianne Rygh | Diana Maria Mahecha, Juan de la Rosa and Juan Carlos Arias | Jenna Mikus

Talks: Diseño Sistémico

Talks: Diseño Sistémico

Marie Davidová, Maria Claudia Valverde and Hanane Behnam | Cecilia Padula and Silvia Barbero | Fiona Descoteaux, Donagh Horgan and Stephen Wall | Sharon Zivkovic | Elena Porqueddu | Tanya Efremenko and Honorata Grzesikowska | Marion Real, Carlotta Fontana Valenti, Pietro L. Verga, Pablo Muñoz, Ashley Laflin and Milena Juarez


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