Transversal Design: Glimpsing the emergent whole, with the trouble

Format: Papers, RSD10, Topic: Health & Well-being

Cheryl Hsu

In increasingly fragmented environments leading to growing distrust of large-scale systems, how might designers work in the service of building a sense of collective “wholeness” without “totalizing” one perspective or worldview? This short paper draws from philosophical inquiry and participation with emerging relational practices of Collective Presencing and People Need People (PNP) Warm Data Labs, to explore how design can revitalize its optimistic commitment to designing the conditions of symbiotic systems of living wholeness while engaging the epistemic humility of approaching it with what feminist scholar Donna Haraway describes as “living with the trouble.”

The author proposes a transversal design approach, wherein the building tensions in and through a plurality of perspectives and relationships can creatively lead to transversal encounters of glimpsing “wholeness”: the creative moments where the “us” and “them” might become the emergent “we”. These glimpses of the “wholeness” — whether it is of the group, of the problem, of the system(s) – are what catalyze the collective emergence and alignment around shared vision and action.

Keywords: pluriverse, transversalism, wholeness, awareness-based systems change, warm data

Citation Data

Author(s): Cheryl Hsu
Title: Transversal Design: Glimpsing the emergent whole, with the trouble
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 3 September 2021
Last update:
Publisher Identification:

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