Teaching systems thinking in design at National Institute of Design (NID) India

Authors: Praveen Nahar

With its large population and enormous socio-cultural-economic-environmental diversity, today India is looked as microcosm for the world. Most of the challenges that the world faces today, are all present in India. Design education has been addressing tactical and creative level however it is imperative for designers in India to explore vision led design approaches which address diversity. They can look to understand design from a broader and deeper perspective. The biggest opportunity for designers today is to build systems and tools that can encourage and build vision for the future.At NID it starts with introductory course at foundation level which is called Design Concepts and Concerns (also known as Design Process) which explores various concepts and concerns from macro to micro perspective on design in local and global context and prepares students to deal with ambiguity and complexity. As the students move towards end of their academic programme Systems Thinking and Design project is introduced. This project lasts for 8 to10 weeks brings perspective on systems thinking and its relation to design. This is offered to both undergraduate and post graduate students. This project involves the application of the systems approach towards a design problem. Theme based projects are undertaken which can cover a wide range of problems areas. The emphasis is on the understanding of interrelationships that make a coherent whole.Over the last decade the course is evolved and now majorly deals with complex issues and wicked problems from socio-cultural-economic-environmental perspective with high level of ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity, students work in groups and facilitated to sustain complexity through various intermediate tools and frameworks. Live Project based on extensive field work, complex systems modeling, design opportunity mapping and design interventions are carried in trans-disciplinary design domains like product, services, systems, policies, infrastructure, communication, social innovation etc.
This has been every enriching for the students as well as for faculty and the institute as a whole to open up to vastness of design and what design can do in almost any field. It also brings empathy, humility, modesty, patience, confidence, and ethics in individuals. Students become active thinkers making effective arguments through interesting formats which would best communicate their ideas visual mapping. They also maintain blogs to reflect and share their process and ideas. The educational framework for systems design is reflective, evolving, transdisciplinary, and occurs at various levels.
Glimpse of Systems Thinking and Design Projects in last few years: • Cycle Share System • Blood collection / donation system • Street Hawkers • Organic Farming • Election Reforms • Sustainable Urban Transport • E-waste • Corruption • Hygiene • Emergency Management • Maternal Mortality • Police reforms • Sustainable Milk Mobility • Truckers and logistics • User Centered Design for Railways • Car Sharing System for Delhi • Mobility for Blind • Rural Urban Digital Divide • Street Education • Universal Design for Public Buses in Gujarat • Transit to School • Mumbai Suburban Rail System • Design Response to disaster • Maternal Health for Rural India • Energy & Sustainability • Rural Transportation • Railway Fright Systems • Mobility for Elderly • Rural Business Hubs • Sustainable Tourism • Issues of Salt workers • Rain water harvesting systems • Solid Waste Management • Design & Informal Economy • Way finding in India • Parking Systems in Urban India • Rocking 60’s: Design for Elder Care • Domestic waste management • Sustainable Home Systems

Posted: Sep-2013

RSD 10 Call for Papers

RSD10 offers a platform for discussing ongoing work with peers and presents the state-of-the-art in the systemic design field. This year there are two paper tracks: short papers for ongoing work, and long papers for finished work.

More information RSD10.org.

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