Permaculture as a Systemic Design Practice

Format: Papers, RSD4, Topic: Health & Well-being

Author: John Cassel

The discourse on design has often situated it as a science of the artificial, but it has always been necessary to design our interaction with natural systems as well. One tradition for doing so is permaculture, a systemic design approach that aims to develop sustainable (permanent) agriculture and settlements. This paper will present permaculture’s relationship to systemic design, providing historical context to understand its ecological, agricultural, and design origins. Permaculture has made many contributions to systemic design, including simple-to-remember lists of guiding ethics and principles, a clever vocabulary of categories that allow the discussion of interactions, a toolbox of design methods for selecting and assembling systems of elements, overall design processes, and some agroecological and social system design insights. However, this exchange of ideas can go both ways, as there are current challenges to permaculture in which systemic design can assist, including forming objectives, assessing appropriate technology, stakeholder engagement, and launching viable projects. From there, this paper highlights new developments that show progress in addressing these challenges, and illustrates that systemic designers can join permaculture practitioners in these efforts. Overall, agroecological design is an area of systemic design that shows much need and promise.




Citation Data

Author(s): SEPTEMBER 2015
Title: Permaculture as a Systemic Design Practice
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 28 July 2015
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Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


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Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

Publishing with RSD

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design are published online and include the contributions for each format.

Papers and presentations are entered into a single-blind peer-review process, meaning reviewers see the authors’ names but not vice versa. Reviewers consider the quality of the proposed contribution and whether it addresses topics of interest or raises relevant issues in systemic design. The review process provides feedback and possible suggestions for modifications.

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Peter Jones
Ben Sweeting

The Scholars Spiral

In 2022, the Systemic Design Association adopted the scholars spiral—a cyclic non-hierarchical approach to advance scholarship—and in 2023, launched Contexts—The Systemic Design Journal. Together, the RSD symposia and Contexts support the vital emergence of supportive opportunities for scholars and practitioners to publish work in the interdisciplinary field of systemic design.

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