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RSD12-Monterrey: Evolution of Participatory Ecosystems


humanity, health, habitus

Hosted by Tecnológico de Monterrey | October 9, 2023 | Monterrey, Mexico 

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)


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

Banathy, Bela H. (1997). Designing social systems for a changing world. New York: Plenum Publishing.

Call for Contributions | Deadline for abstracts May 31 | Complete submissions due June 15 | Registration coming soon

RSD12-Monterrey Setting

The evolving Mexican context disclosed by Tecnológico de Monterrey creates 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 Tech 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.

FOCUS: Participatory Ecosystems

The RSD12 call for contributions is now open and accepting submissions for papers, online workshops, and exhibits related to “participatory ecosystems.”

Inspired by Tecnológico de Monterrey, the participatory ecosystems focus aims to discover research and design projects that have applied systemic design to placemaking and social innovation in ecosystems. Also beneficial are contributions that demonstrate theories and methodologies that are being employed in this work, such as Elena Porqueddu’s Context’s article on systemic spatial design, in which she identifies the need for further work on spatial-architectural theory.

In this regard, further transdisciplinary research investigating the complex relationship between these heterogeneous aspects could have a crucial role in constructing a systemic spatial design framework and in unlocking unforeseen potential for urban regeneration and sustainable development across our existing and emergent urban systems.  (Porqueddu, 2023)

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. As prompts, contributions to this focus area might respond to the following:

  • How are participatory ecosystems providing ways for the inherent variety of knowledge, expertise, and perspectives to co-create and shape the future of society itself as it transitions through large-scale system changes?
  • What theories and methodologies are being employed to develop, scale, and create governance?
  • As this focus area is aligned with Distrito Tec, there is heightened interest in research and case studies on social innovation in urban ecosystems that are driving systemic change.


Porqueddu, E. (2022). Systemic Spatial Design: Enhancing the potential of spatial design disciplines to navigate adaptive cycles in cities. Contexts—The Systemic Design Journal, 1.

Related Resources

Iñiguez Flores, R. (2018). Advanced Design Cultures: A learning system perspective. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD7) Symposium.

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

RSD Examples

Boehnert, J. & Mair, S. (2021). Mapping productivity, energy and well-being. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD10) Symposium.

Lynn Murray-Chandler, L., Lake, D. & Humphreys, D. (2022). Utilising Design Thinking to Reimagine Campus Culture: Learning, engagement, and persistence. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD11) Symposium.

De Lille, C.S.H. & Overdiek, A. (2021). From System to Local to System: Design principles to scale for a system in transition. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD10) Symposium.

Giraldo Nohra, C. & Barbero, S. (2018). Post-industrial Areas on the Lens of Systemic Design towards Flourishing Urban Resilience. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD7) Symposium.

Martins Rizardi, B. & Gomes Metello, D. (2021). Bottom-Up-Down Approach: Creating system maps by understanding people’s stories. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD10) Symposium.

Smith-Foster, E. & Castle, T. (2022). Guiding Strategies For System Change with a Futures-Led, Human-Centred Design Approach. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD11) Symposium.

Spencer, C. (2022). Rethinking Participatory Design Research Methodologies. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD11) Symposium.


Academic leads:
Peter Jones,
David Sanchez Ruano

Project management: TBA

Communication & community: TBA

A/V & web hosting:  TBA

Advisor:  Roberto Iñiguez Flores


RSD12-Monterrey invites students, faculty across departments, community developers and activists, business leaders and entrepreneurs, and stakeholders to come together with systems scholars and practitioners, design futurists, and innovation strategists.


9:00–10:00 Join the hub for refreshments and a broadcast of authors presenting papers on participatory ecosystem work.


  • opening remarks
  • workshops & presentations
  • keynote speaker
  • workshops & presentations
  • closing plenary
  • social


9:00–10:00 Online broadcast of authors presenting papers on participatory ecosystem work.


To be announced.

About Tecnológico de Monterrey

Roberto Iñiguez Flores is the Dean, School of Architecture, Art and Design, Tecnológico de Monterrey. Through the creation of strategies on a national and local scale, Roberto has led the development of projects for the transformation of cities to tackle the challenges and improve people’s quality of life and motivate companies to innovate. He is a designer with 20 years of experience in product innovation, working as a consultant for design strategies and innovation methods for global companies. Roberto’s research focuses on advanced design cultures, with a particular interest in anticipation processes, the relation between systems and design, and how individuals and organisations develop “advanced” design competencies. He is part of the C+Lab—Cities Laboratory, which aims to link research and education with a positive impact on communities in Mexico.

Peter Jones is a Systemic Design Association co-founder and professor at OCAD University, Toronto, where he teaches in the Strategic Foresight and Innovation and the Design for Health graduate programs. Peter leads systemic design research in new economies, healthcare, media, community governance, social system and policy design, through collaboration in international networks. Since 2001, Peter has led the strategic innovation consultancy Redesign Network. He connects research and practice through founding commitments with the Flourishing Enterprise Institute, Drawdown Toronto, Bounce Beyond, the Agoras Institute, and OCAD’s Strategic Innovation Lab. Peter is convening the 12th year of Design with Dialogue, a community of practice to educate and socialize creative facilitation of dialogues for transformation. His publications are found at

David Sanchez Ruano is a biomimetic designer and researcher. Currently, he is a research professor in Industrial Design at the School of Architecture, Art and Design of the Tecnológico de Monterrey Campus Guadalajara. He is also a visiting professor in postgraduate studies at the University of Plymouth, England and the University of Lisbon, Portugal. David is a co-founder of the Biomimicry UK network and participates as an advisor in the Biomimicry Mexico Network. He has organised workshops and conferences and participated in national and international publications where he discusses topics on biodesign, biophilia, ecodesign, land art, service design, and philosophy and ethics for design.

RSD12-Monterrey is hosted by the School of Architecture, Art and Design, Tecnológico de Monterrey.

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 scholar’s spiral

In 2022, the Systemic Design Association adopted the scholar's 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.


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