Utilising Design Thinking to Reimagine Campus Culture: Learning, engagement, and persistence

Format: Papers, RSD11, RSD11: Confronting legacies of oppression, Topic: Cases & Practice, Topic: Learning & Education, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Lynn Murray-Chandler, Danielle Lake, and David Humphreys

Southern New Hampshire University | Elon University | Southern New Hampshire University

This presentation shares lessons learned and strategies from an ongoing systemic design process seeking to improve retention, persistence, and a sense of belonging across one liberal arts university campus.  The initiative integrates principles and strategies from design thinking (as defined by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design/ Stanford method), liberatory design, systems thinking, as well as the latest research on retention and belonging in order to transform policies, processes, and practices, build relationships, and shift campus culture. In particular, the paper explores a relational and situated approach to systemic design practice at a small liberal arts campus that is part of a much larger private university system. The case study explores the value of diverse forms of scaling systems change, utilising a lens that has been historically absent from many studies in systemic change. Ten initiatives and a number of strategies for pursuing a participatory and equity-centred approach to designing and scaling complex social systems change are recommended. As an ongoing case study, the paper concludes by highlighting roadblocks, challenges, opportunities, and additional considerations for scaling complex social systems change with faculty, staff, and students. 

KEYWORDS: relationship-rich education, systemic design, scale, persistence, engagement, retention, SOTL

Citation Data

Author(s): Lynn Murray-Chandler, Danielle Lake, and David Humphreys
Year: 2022
Title: Utilising Design Thinking to Reimagine Campus Culture: Learning, engagement, and persistence
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 190
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

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.


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