Laetitia Bornes, Catherine Letondal, and Rob Vingerhoeds
The systemic design approach is particularly relevant to imagining and designing more-than-sustainable futures while respecting planetary boundaries. It involves navigating between spatial, organisational, and temporal scales in order to give weight to long-term effects while addressing the urgency of the situation. It is also a question of perceiving interdependencies and underlying structures, as well as anticipating possible rebound effects.
Representation in the form of models, such as causal loop diagrams, sometimes makes it easier to understand and communicate a complex situation, as well as to identify leverage areas for action. Causal loop diagrams represent the structure of a system but do not represent the orders of magnitude of its current state, its dynamics, or projections of possible futures.
Yet many of the problems we face are physical and quantifiable (e.g. carbon emissions, land artificialisation, etc.), and we need tools to address them. Systems dynamics, a legacy of hard systems thinking, can help us to imagine, compare and combine design leverages over time through simulation. However, stock and flow modelling tools are hardly used by systemic designers, as they require coding and mastery of the principles of system dynamics.
In this workshop, we aim to explore the potential of modelling to support more-than-sustainable design. Prior to the workshop, participants are guided through an example application to familiarise themselves with the formalism of quali-quantitative modelling. Through this example, they discover how the interactive modelling tool can be used to explore scenarios and support design and planning decisions.
During the workshop, participants practise quali-quantitative modelling on a case study drawn from their own experience or on the case study presented by the organisers. They are invited to discuss their own experiences and the projects for which modelling would have been of interest before discussing the benefits and limitations of modelling in these different cases. The aim is to share the potential of this approach while gathering feedback from the systemic design community. The workshop is, therefore, primarily aimed at systemic designers who have already worked on projects involving quantitative data and are interested in a modelling tool, but it is open to all kinds of participants, including novice ones.
KEYWORDS: modelling, tools, systems dynamics, sustainability, sociotechnical systems, rebound effect
Prior to the workshop, participants are asked to watch an online pre-session (asynchronous webinar). This pre-session introduces an example application, which is used during the workshop. This example application could be the case of a platform for the resale of second-hand clothes and the rebound effects that this causes on several scales. Participants then learn about the formalism of quali-quantitative modelling: the meaning and function of each element available for the visual construction of the graph. They discover how the interactive modelling tool can be used to explore scenarios and support design and planning decisions through a simplified example.