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The Promise of Systemic Designing; Giving Form to Water

This is the abstract for a chapter in a soon to be published Springer Major Reference Work: 
Systems Thinking and Change Volume (2017)

This chapter is an overview of why systemic design is important, what it looks like and how novices can be prepared to become practitioners of systemic designing. The chapter provides only an overview of systemic designing, introducing ideas that will be developed in much greater depth outside the space limitations of this chapter in a forthcoming book. However, it is important to first become acquainted with the ideas and their interrelationships, which is the purpose of the chapter.


The world is understood to be more complex and dynamic than previously thought. Design is understood to be a deeper mystery than previously assumed. Design creates reality and humans have engaged in design from the beginning of history but little is known of its true nature or full potential. Familiar approaches to design and design education no longer match the real-world necessities and expectations of modern societies. Everything is connected and it is difficult, or it seems often impossible, to determine what course of action is prudent when designing within complexity. Systemic design is an emergent approach to creating desired change that takes a broader stance and deeper approach to designing than is the norm nowadays. Creating educational experiences that prepare systemic designers for professional practice requires systemic design approaches. This chapter is an introduction to some of those approaches.

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