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Helen Avery

Centre for Advanced Middle Eastern Studies / Centre for Environmental and Climate Science, Lund University, Sweden

The family of methodologies and approaches used and developed by the systemic design community has several characteristics that could play a vital role in supporting collective visioning and concerted action for sustainability transitions. It offers heuristics for bridging scales and domains and tools for constructing spaces of joint reflection, visioning and decision-making. These methodologies enable us to combine learning from speculation with the material process of trying out our ideas, as well as to draw on embodied experiences and emotions. Aesthetic traditions and craftsmanship transcend purely instrumentalist and functional objectives. Importantly also, the practice of iteratively applying reflexivity, design thinking and systemic approaches to our own practices of prototyping, mapping or visualisation offers the potential to further develop relevant methodologies. As individuals, the capacity of systemic designers to decide in which directions to move forward is often limited by dependence on funding from industry and strong stakeholders. This tends to constrain design criteria, framing, agendas, timelines and participants in commissioned systemic design work, as well as shaping the orientation of design schools. However, as a community, we collectively have the expertise, resources and motivation to engage in concerted, informed, and intentional action that is consistent with our ethics and value base. The presentation outlines some options and directions in methodological development that could support such work, as well as pointing to possible challenges and pitfalls at a time when our community is contemplating modes of growth, the formation of new alliances, a widening of methodological repertoires, and a critical examination of our current toolkits. It is suggested that one of the central questions we need to pose concerns a deeper reflection on what the objective of ‘systemic change’ actually entails.

KEYWORDS:  systemic design, designing methodological development, future-oriented methodologies, knowledge systems, agenda-setting, ethical praxis, systemic change

Sketchnote by Patricia Kambitch | Playthink




Citation Data

Author(s): Helen Avery
Year: 2022
Title: The Frog that Leaped
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 176
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 20 September 2022
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404
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