Possibilities and Practices of Systemic Design: Questions for the next decade of Relating Systems Thinking and Design

Format: Papers, News & Notes, Proceedings: Editorial, RSD11, RSD11 Programme, Systemic Design

Ben Sweeting and Sally Sutherland

Radical Methodologies Research Group, School of Architecture, Technology and Engineering, University of Brighton

As Relating Systems Thinking and Design moves into its second decade, it is possible to question systemic design’s emerging shape. RSD1 through RSD10 have established systemic design as a field with growing mainstream recognition. However, such successes carry the risk that those things that are valuable and different in systemic design can become lost, simplified, and conventionalised. Drawing on Birger Sevaldson’s framing of systemic design as a field of possibilities, we draw attention to systemic design’s own boundary judgements and their importance in maintaining and developing the field’s pluralism and criticality. We conclude with questions that we see as crucial for systemic design: What are the possibilities and practices of systemic design? And what should they be?

KEYWORDS: Design, boundary critique, cybernetics, gigamapping, systems thinking, transdisciplinarity

This essay has been developed from the RSD11 call for papers and the welcome remarks given in the RSD11 opening plenary.

Opening plenary (video file 7:21)




Citation Data

Author(s): Ben Sweeting and Sally Sutherland
Year: 2022
Title: Possibilities and Practices of Systemic Design: Questions for the next decade of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 002
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 18 April 2023
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Copyright Information

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).


Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested citation format (APA)

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.

The Organising Committee reviews and assesses workshops and systems maps & exhibits with input from reviewers and the Programme Committee.

Editor: Cheryl May
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.

The Systemic Design Association's membership ethos is to co-create the socialization and support for all members to contribute their work, find feedback and collaboration where needed, and pursue their pathways toward research and practice outcomes that naturally build a vital design field for the future.


Verified by MonsterInsights