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RSD12-Washington DC and RSD12-ONLINE

defining new trajectories in systemic design

3 days

all plenum all day

13 hubs

provocations & instigations 


60 tickets available

Our entanglement is both a source of confusion and a source of power

Hosted by Georgetown University | October 18–20, 2023 | Washington DC, USA

RSD12 represents the largest network for systemic design ever created.

You are a part of that.

You also have a part in where it goes from here.

Join us in Washington DC for three days of talks, workshops, and social events aimed at collectively charting a course for our systemic design network.

Paul Pangaro: Given the complexities and entanglements of politics and technologies, where can we focus to bring about change?
Humberto Maturana: All living beings live in their ecological organism-niche unity, following the path in which they feel they are conserving their well-being; the only thing peculiar to us is that we human beings consciously choose the path we follow in the conservation of our living and are, therefore, responsible for what we choose. In these circumstances, our fundamental question is, if we want to live together: what do we want to conserve in our living together in a changing present in which the course that it follows depends on what we consciously choose to do?


Manturana. (2016). Co-designing for Society and Meta-systems. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD7.


Healy Hall, Georgetown U | PHOTO: APK | CC BY-SA 4.0

Emerging from Entanglement

For those who are participating in RSD12-ONLINE sessions and possibly one or more in-person RSD12-HUBS, the culminating RSD12 programme offers a time to reflect and make sense of the experience. However, this is also a standalone symposium of interest to policymakers, changemakers, academics, and practitioners who are using systemic design approaches or are intrigued about systemic design’s interdisciplinary approach to transformative change.

New entanglements will be foremost, but we will also discover new perspectives on old entanglements. RSD12-Washington will feature presentations from RSD-HUBS—an incredible opportunity to get views from people engaged in systemic design in 13 regions: Ahmedabad, Amsterdam, Bogotá, Kihchikaw-Âski (Edmonton), Kingston (UK), Loughborough, Monterrey, Nordmarka Forest (Oslo), Pittsburgh, Toronto, Turnin, and Vancouver—and Washington. The Georgetown symposium will also bring together the entanglements of interest through a series of sessions by regionally-based presenters. We aim to share core learnings and key takeaways from local gatherings within the larger framings provided by the entanglements—to situate systemic design and designers within the interconnected questions, patterns, and impacts that are shaping the emergent systems reconfiguring our world.

RSD12-Washington is hosted by Georgetown University, a top-ranking academic and research institution comprised of 11 undergraduate and graduate schools and degrees in more than 40 disciplines. If you plan to join the culminating in-person three-day event at Georgetown University, it’s worth planning to stay the weekend. RSD12 is situated near Washington DC museums, which number more than 75 and include the Smithsonian Institution’s 17 museums, many galleries and a zoo. (Bonus: many of the museums are free of charge.)

Studying the impact of technology on society, and society on technology since 1996.

RSD12-WASHINGTON DC is hosted by Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture and Technology Program (CCT) and the Iteration Lab, a transdisciplinary laboratory for the design and analysis of iterative methods.

“As one of the most innovative, interdisciplinary graduate programs in the world, we move beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries to explore complex problems that require innovative approaches and thoughtful reflection.” —Jeanine Turner, CCT Director

focus: disentangling emergence

Chelsea Mauldin | RSD12-Washington KEYNOTE | Photo & Interview Conscious Magazine

Technological Entanglements

Artificial Intelligence is on everyone’s mind, and the disruptions it portends justify that attention. However, AI, in all its manifestations, is just one of a collection of emerging technologies (quantum computing, nanotechnologies, CRISPR, etc.) that will have profound and destabilising effects on humanity. We aim to further discussions about technologies that are on the horizon and what futures they make possible — or impossible. Where should we place boundaries around technological development and adoption? What limits do we need to redefine? What processes should we use to set these boundaries?

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology and Ethics, Citizen Science, Data Science

Natural Entanglements

Climate change has been with us for generations, but its long-anticipated consequences are finally being felt. While optimism about the possibility of mitigating the worst impacts of climate change should be a foundation of all work in this area, we also need to reckon with the reality that our world still lacks the structures and will to undo the damage we have already done to our planet and to acknowledge that the worst of those impacts are being felt by those least responsible. For these reasons, we are particularly interested in work that addresses the short- and medium-term impacts of climate change at local scales (household, neighbourhood, region), identifies and empowers communities that face the worst impacts, and offers transposable solutions for sustaining life amid profound environmental disruptions.

Keywords: Climate Justice, Adaptation, Resilience, Indigenous Knowledge

Entanglements of Policy and Power

No discussion of emergence in systems is complete without an understanding of the regulatory apparatus that shapes it — both from the external environment and from internal constraints. The power to influence emergence is not evenly distributed, but aggregated in localities of control. These leverage points have outsized effects, and deserve particular attention. What rules and regulations are having the most impact? Which need to be replaced and what should replace them? How do we identify leverage points, excavate their influence, and demonstrate their potential? How can the balance of power be shifted?

Keywords: Social Justice, Ethics, Leverage Points, Representation, Policy Metrics

Foundational Entanglements

As systemic design continues to emerge from the interaction of theories and methods in systems thinking and design, we must pay special attention to how these theories and methods shape our understanding of the world, the development of the field, and systemic design’s relationship to other disciplines. Submissions in this track should address some aspect of a foundational or fundamental element of systemic design. Examples include: interrogating a concept or method from a new perspective, introducing a concept or method from another discipline, and exposing the limits or possibilities of existing theories and methods.

Keywords: Co-Design, Futuring, Reflexivity, Diffractive Methodologies, Systems Science, Design Science


RSD12-Washington Organisers


Evan Barba |


J.R. Osborn |


Ella Csarno |

RSD12 is a project of the SDA

Hub Partner

circolo del design