CAS ETH : Sustainability to Regeneration  

Certificate of Advanced Studies ETH in
Designing Resilient Regenerative Systems (CAS ETH DRRS)

Magazine CAS ETH : Sustainability to Regeneration

About the program

This CAS is the first out of a planned series of three CAS, leading to the planned MAS Master of Advanced Studies ETH in Regenerative Systems.

The DRRS master program builds on the qualities of top-​notch basic and applied research at ETH in the service of science, society, industry, and politics.

To help address emerging, unpredictable, adaptive systems in the direction of regeneration, we deepen our science understanding, such as in ecosystem functions, biogeophysical cycles, cell regeneration, bio-engineering, artificial intelligence, circular economy, nature finance, and social-ecological resilience. We refresh and activate a tangible methods portfolio, such as life cycle analysis, social network analysis, agent-based modeling, serious gaming, and transdisciplinary real-world design. And we try keeping science light enough by shifting from control and prediction to participating in life’s complexity.

Status: A few seats are still to be given to people who complement the diversity of the cohort. The second and last application phase starts at the beginning of July.
Application period: 03.07-17.07.2023
Start: September 2023
Duration: 3 months (DRRS MOOC#1 needs to be taken prior to CAS start)
Credit points: 12 ECTS
Format: Hybrid, virtual and flexible, with a parallel physical stream and a field design trip to Italy (physical and mandatory)
Field design trip: 10.09.–20.09.2023
Tuition language: English
Program fee: CHF 8,230 (excl. costs for field design trip)
Further costs: Travel to/from Italy/Turin for the design field trip and 50% of local expenses for food/accommodation to be covered individually.  50% of food and overnight expenses are covered by the program

Admission Criteria and Process

Why taking this course?

CAS ETH Sustainability to regeneration

Knowledge systems evolve quickly. What we were taught once may not be the state of knowledge today. The idea of science is that we know more tomorrow than we do today. There exist other types of knowing we may have had no access to. Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing knowledge distribution.

We need to learn to unlearn, to be able to relearn. It is a process of personal growth. This opening and cross-wiring is supporting you on your personal QUEST – your interest, motivation and mission to be part of a network of creative weavers for bio-regional regeneration.

A hybrid course setup as entry to DRRS

This CAS with its introducing MOOC is a hybrid program that you can study virtually from wherever you live, in a pace that you can combine with your professional and private life. The distinctive physical, in-person component adds the real-world facets with all their unmatched qualities to the flexible virtual part, and makes it hybrid.

The CAS rhythm

This is the first CAS counting towards the planned MAS (Master of Advanced Studies) ETH in Regenerative Systems, with two further CAS to follow.

To qualify for being accepted to the CAS, you must have finished the respective MOOC at the time of the CAS start, in addition to the general requirements of the ETH School for Continuing Education.

Corresponding with MOOC#1, this CAS is organized in six thematic modules. Each of these six CAS modules takes two weeks and finishes with a peer-reviewed delivery.

After the first virtual introduction week the entire course engages in a physical real-world design field trip to the MonViso Institute, Italy. This trip is mandatory to take in person.

After this field trip, the six modules organized in two weeks each include virtual live conversations with DRRS instructors and further guest speakers, in-depth virtual discussions, individual QUEST coaching with external experts, and peer learning. The parallel physical activities are organized by yourself through executing and implementing DRRS methods and QUEST related steps with local partners in your own region.

The flexibility of virtual learning is combined with two types of physical, in-person learning:

  • You are coached and nudged to develop your own peer-community, physically, where you live, including a direct exchange partner, ideally another program participant or a friend/colleague, and at least one partner from praxis, in relation to your QUEST and bio-regional transformation project to develop. You can also sign up as a team.
  • The block field design trip where the entire group meets physically in a partnering real-world lab and engages physically, intensively for 10 days, including a Serious Game development and Systemic Cycles tour of multiple days.

At the end of this CAS, participants will be asked to submit a self-reflection of their QUEST in both textual and graphical form.

Course modules and themes

Introduction to the program, the learning cohort, your QUEST, the field design trip

Module 1 : Global crises to local interventions
Navigating nested crises; societal and individual root causes; solutions or interventions; transformation and transition; free topic

Module 2 : Sustainability to Regeneration
Sustainability origins and mental models; sustainability science; regeneration across contexts and scales; from cells to ecosystems to societal to personal regeneration; free topic

Module 3 : Worldviews
Different ways of knowing and reasoning; science; warm data; design; free topic

Module 4 : Reframing complexity
Complexity, simplicity, reframing; weaving; free topic

Module 5 : Design as nature
Ecosystems functions; deep ecology; we are nature; biomimicry; bio-infused communication; nature finance; free topic

Module 6 : Mind and movement
Flow experiences; self-compassion; meditative nature practice; self agency; mountaineering metaphors; regenerative leadership; organic emergence; systemic cycles; free topic

A real-world immersion

Right after the virtual introduction week, the whole CAS cohort – maximum size 20 participants – meets for a 10 days real-world immersion trip in the Italian Alps. The small mountain village of Ostana, in the High Po river Valley, Piedmont Region, is home to the Monviso Institute (MVI), a real-world laboratory and bio-regional learning center on an elevation of 1500m asl. MVI was launched in 2015. In the past 8 years, MVI has been deeply engaging in regenerative practices across governance scales and themes.

Enacting with community regeneration in an alpine-urban relation

At this unique location, where we can experiment in reality, with access to various resources, places, people, community, and deep understanding of the place and its specifications, we will engage in regenerative praxis. More specifically, we will practice community regeneration interventions in relation with the urban and the valley, the incoming and outgoing tourist and second home owners and day workers, with the local people, the old and the new ones. 

We will do so by developing and playing a prototype of a serious game with local and regional people, on real friction topics in the regeneration processes.

Part of this game development is to dive into this formerly abandoned mountain community and its regeneration pathways over years. We will meet locals, explore the surrounding, together bake pizza at the outdoor wood oven, get dirty hands for some harvesting help to a local organic food producer, learn to weave Cashmere goat wool and also baskets as part of the local economy, and practice weaving in a DRRS sense – building relations with the region through a Systemic Cycles bicycle tour from/to Ostana.

Systemic Cycles tour

This four day cycle tour with overnight stays in simple Agriturismos will make us familiar with the region. We meet stakeholders, map linear and circular flows, and experience flow. Back in Ostana we will use the regional and local (warm) data, produce the game, and invite actors for a social evening of play.

The cycle trip involves visual dialogue and hands-on practices, planned and spontaneous encounters. We will meet our physical and mental limitations, and build organic emergence as part of our personal development practices.

Growing together as a professional learning community

From a social side, this in-person gathering is what a virtual and even a conventional classroom setting lacks – enacting complexity, embodying systems, growing together as a professional learning community with deeper connections, maybe even evolving friendships, time to exchange and best equipped for the following virtual collaborative learning period.

Who are instructors?

We curate a rich and diverse learning community by ETH Zurich and partnering Universities’ faculty, with contributing thought leaders and experts in their fields who walk their talk.

University professors, designers, builders, politicians, mountain guides, consultants, entrepreneurs, architects, visionaries, PhD students – and yourself, as participant, in the form of learning tandems with regionally close colleagues. This overview is a living one and evolves with time. Further contributors join us continuously as the program evolves.

PhD. DRRS Progam Director. Professor, AHO Oslo. Co-founder, MonViso Institute. Grown Design. Mountain guide.

Justyna Swat

Architect Engineer. Design tutor and lab leader in Systemic Design. Founder of Tiny Labs.

Delfina Van Dittmar

PhD. Senior Researcher and lecturer. Biologist and Design Researcher.

Hayley Fitzpatrick

Architect, PhD candidate in Systemic Design, Design Associate.

Adrienne Grêt-Regamey

PhD. Professor and Head of Institute Planning of Landscape and Urban Systems PLUS.

Alexa Jedda Firmenich

Co-director of SEED Biodiversity indexing at Crowther Lab. Animist Investor. Founder, Lifeworlds Podcast.

Martin Schütz

Engineering Design lecturer. Bicycle frame engineer. Co-founder of Systemic Cycles.

Certified trainer in Mindful Self-Compassion, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Awake in the Wild. Council Practice, Yoga.

Daniel Christian Wahl

PhD. Bio-regional weaver. Speaker. Educator. Autor of “Designing Regenerative Cultures”.

Eric L. Berlow

PhD. Social Impact Data scientist. Network scientist. Ecologist. TED Senior Fellow. Founder of

Nicolas Salliou

PhD. Senior Researcher. Participatory Environmental modeling, Serious Game design.

PhD. Professor and co-head of Transdisciplinarity Lab.

As well as:

  • Fritjof Capra, PhD, Center for Ecoliteracy, Berkeley CA
  • Jeremy Lent, Author, Liology Institute, Deep Transformation Network, CA
  • Birger Sevaldson, PhD, Professor AHO Oslo, NO
  • Ingrid Halland, PhD, Professor AHO Oslo, NO
  • Maja Göpel, PhD, author, transformation researcher, Germany
  • Philippe Vandenbroeck, ShiftN, Belgium, and ETH Zurich
  • Guillaume Habert, PhD, Professor in Sustainable Construction, ETH Zurich
  • Benjamin Marias, AIR coop, Vice-mayor of Annecy, co-founder of AIR collab, France
  • Romano Wyss, PhD, EPFL Lausanne, Wyss Conseil Scientifique
  • Sonia Kefi, PhD, Professor at Université de Montpellier
  • Andrés Edwards, Author of “Renewal”, EduTracks, California
  • Philipp Schneider, PhD, geo-hydrologist, mountain guide, Basel, CH
  • Eduard Willms, PhD, cell researcher, Netherlands
  • Michaela Emch, biomimicry practitioner, Eclosions, CH
  • Michelle Fehler, Naturefactor, Arizona State University, US
  • Deborah Bidwell, Biomimicry, College of Charleston, US
  • Andi & Gieri Hinnen, St. Gallen, CH

The new CAS as part of the planned MAS ETH in Regenerative Systems is specially developed for experienced professionals. How come?

In this new CAS, the theories, methods and illustrations of the established DRRS MOOC#1 are deepened and critically applied to participants’ individual professional experiences and QUESTs – through live dialogues with thought leaders, co-learning in groups, personal mentoring, and real-world immersion. 

As an experienced participant in this CAS, you enter your personal learning journey guided by your QUEST – your set of guiding questions related to your specific interest, motivation, drive, and goals – supported and mentored through DRRS staff, external experts, fellow students, and alumni.

This hybrid program between science, design and praxis offers these key benefits to you:

  • Update on the latest discourse and sense making in science
    Deep-dive into relational scientific discourse for its applicability to transformations towards regeneration.
  • Become expressive and creative like a designer
    By expressing intention through interactions and relationships, you acquire designerly praxis from various design disciplines, and practice creation in uncertainty.
  • Practically move things forward
    We practice regenerative design as part of established real-world laboratories and bio-regional learning centers. Together we share hands-on and rich professional support for your individual QUEST project from different geographies, climates, cultures, topographies, political systems and governance scales. 
  • Befriend uncertainty through personal development
    You acquire personal development tools for dealing with uncertainty. You learn to embrace complexity and dance with systems – through embodiment, flow and compassion you build organic emergence.
  • Weave relations and design for systemic innovation
    You practice weaving for leading transformation across scales of governance, applied by weaving practices to your own context. Students become teachers, and teachers become students. 
  • Expand and deepen your professional network and communities
    You extend your local, regional and global professional network, and develop strategic and practical impact towards your next professional future.
  • Get reach – become a teacher to thousands of learners
    As a DRRS alumni, you can provide your growing expertise, your QUEST progress, through the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) series to all learners joining the program, and thus contribute with massive reach.
  • Be most cost effective to spur change from within
    From an employer’s perspective, supporting an employee or even a team of employees to engage in this program is the most effective and cost efficient way to build capacity and design for resilience and regeneration. DRRS supporting your employee’s QUEST to spur change from within your organization is considerably less expensive than hiring external consultants, if the output were ever comparable.
  • Enjoy a fun learning journey through innovative experiential didactics
    Virtual content nudges local, physical, social, outdoor experiential action, such as Systemic Cycles bike riding, Serious Game playing, View from Above flying and hiking, building and soiling, visual dialoguing and mapping. You will be highly inspired and motivated.
  • Finally – earn your ETH Zurich degree
    We place knowledge, experience, output and networks first in the list of benefits. Still, a professional degree certificate by ETH Zurich as a globally leading technical university is a key benefit for your future career path.

“Crises bear potential – we now have the opportunity to fundamentally redesign our societies, our economies, our lifestyles, our human-nature relation.”

Tobias Luthe, DRRS Program Director

Practical information

Please direct general administrative questions (e.g. documents formats, etc.) directly to the School for Continuing Education:

For content and community related inquiries please contact us.

Application process & documents

Administratively, the application process will be handled by ETH’s School for Continuing Education (SCE). The SCE will be able to address all technical questions and will organize the admissions and immatriculation process.

In CAS#1, participants who all must have successfully finished MOOC#1 are now invited to deep dive further into the themes of the modules, engage in additional content, extend the discourse, and relate the learnings to their individual QUEST. Important to note here is that the shared topical basis will exist through the MOOC to now engage more deeply, extend more critically, focus on specific aspects in relation with developing the QUEST.


Please apply through ETH’s online platform eApply. You will find a manual for the application via eApply here. The application process takes place fully online (incl. payment of the application fee).

Required documents

As part of your application, please be prepared to upload the following documents:

  • Certificate of ETH DRRS MOOC#1 Sustainability to Regeneration
  • Written essay with graphical elements: reflect about your personal QUEST in the context of this study programme
  • Copy of diploma certificate and transcript (of records) of the highest or most relevant degree. Important: If not in German/French/Italian/English, then in original language and with certified German/French/Italian or English translation
  • Copy of passport or identity card: Scan of your passport valid for at least 6 months: only page with photo, name, date of birth, expiry date. CH/EU/EFTA citizens can also upload a copy of their valid identity card (front and back) if no passport is available
  • Completed and signed consent form

For an overview on the application process including contact information please visit this website of the School for Continuing Education. 

For a private person, the personal benefits of this program are clear – from personal development to being updated on the latest state of science to design tools and methods, to professional networks, an ETH degree and a concrete QUEST project implemented. One could not invest better in oneself, especially in times of nested crises.

For an employer, financing an employee this DRRS program is the most cost efficient and effective way to develop and integrate resilience and regeneration inhouse into the organization – leading to transformative impact from day one on. Groups and teams may apply with a group QUEST. We support interested candidates to find financial support from their employers or other institutions. Program payments are due by October 2023.

For anyone who is curious and open to do the best we can to cope with crises, to navigate complexity, to co-create more liveable futures. If you are a postdoc or a practitioner, if you studied science, engineering, design, architecture, economics, psychology, landscape or urban planning, if you are a politician or an entrepreneur, an employee in public services or an accountant: systems are relevant to anyone, and anyone is part of designing resilient regenerative systems.

In general, to be accepted to the ETH executive program, a Master degree or equivalent education has to be proven. For general administrative questions please see the overview page of the ETH School for Continuing Education (SCE).

For content related requirements please check the application overview just left of the FAQ section on this website. In addition to the SCE’s general criteria, you need to have finished MOOC#1 until the course starts at the beginning of September ‘23. In the current application you need to confirm that you will have taken MOOC#1 until  the CAS starts. You are also asked to submit a letter of motivation on your QUEST.

For taking the CAS, the ETH School for Continuing Education may accept a Bachelor degree. The planned Master module (MAS) will be granted only based on a previous Master’s degree, in general. However, practice experience counts as well. To discuss the pathway that fits for you, contact us via The final say is by the ETH School for Continuing Education who you can contact via

You are asked to submit a letter of motivation on your QUEST. The QUEST is related to your overall and also specific motivation to study DRRS, and to your more specific questions you may have related to studying again. You may ask yourself what you try to achieve with studying, what your aims are, formulating your curiosity – what would you like to learn, to gain, and what are your goals – professionally, and also related private goals? You can write this letter (in English) in a free format, with a minimum of 2500 characters and a maximum of about 5000 characters (one to two A4 pages about). You are asked to include a graphical component developed by yourself (e.g. a sketch as a visual summary) and a photo, so text, graphics and photo combined display your starting state of your motivation and set of questions – leading to your personal QUEST during this program.

Yes, MOOC#1 will be back online in May/June 2023, in self-paced mode. The proof of successful participation can still be provided after your application and admittance until the start of the CAS in September.

There is a maximum of 20 seats available per CAS, and we will offer each CAS every two years.

Please follow the instructions as shown on the eApply portal.

Yes, the MOOCs and also the CAS can be taken from anywhere – we have 100+ nations enrolled in this program.The more diverse, the better the fit. However, you’ll need to participate in the 10 days field trip in Italy at the beginning of the program.

The first application window for the first CAS starting September ‘23 is now open from April 20th to May 31st 2023. One of the prerequisites to join the CAS is the successful participation in MOOC#1. This MOOC will be available again in self-paced mode by the end of May/begin of June 2023. Content can be covered over the summer, and successful participation has to be proven by the beginning of September at the latest.

Independent from the CAS, all MOOCs can be taken any time, once they are online in self-paced mode.

The content of MOOC#1 provides the basic framework and theory which the CAS builds on. It equips you with basic knowledge and skills needed for being able to successfully participate in the tasks and conversations to complete the CAS. See also the question below concerning the CAS’ added value.

This first CAS is planned to take place biyearly, meaning the next chance to enter it after September ‘23 will be September ‘25. In case you miss this first CAS, you can still attend the following two CAS of the (planned) MAS program once on offer. As with the MOOCs, it is not required to take them in order 1-4, but participants who already took CAS#1 will be given priority in taking (future) CAS#2 and #3, so they can finish the (future) MAS in due time.

No. We study and co-learn with a professional focus on individual QUEST projects with direct, real-world transformative impact. The individual QUEST development progress, the individual learning advancement, the collective engaged learning contribution, and specific deliveries during the program are all counting for successfully passing the program element, and thus the entire program.

The cost-free MOOC series is, from its second iteration on, a purely virtual program with pre-recorded content, student paced, without live sessions, but backed up by the DRRS online community and a support forum.

The fee-based professional program offers in-depth personal, live, physical teaching and learning, live discourses with key people from the field, extended content, practicing methods in real-world application, individual QUEST project coaching, personal access to teachers and further leading experts in the field, curation of physical peer-learning, and the field design trips as main learning element with direct practical real-world experiences and personal contacts curation.

This program is designed for professionals who work and maybe also have family.  

Corresponding with MOOC#1, this CAS is organized in six thematic modules. After the first virtual introduction week, the entire course engages in a physical real-world design field trip to the MonViso Institute, Italy. This trip is mandatory.

The CAS starts September 4th with a virtual intro week, then Sept 10-20 is the physical field design trip to Italy, followed by six modules with two weeks each. The program finishes December 15th. There are two breaks with one week each – Sept 25-29 to travel after the field trip, and Oct 30-Nov 3 as a general break. So the total program time is 15 weeks, whereof 13 weeks are actual course time.

The six modules are organized in two weeks. In the first week of each CAS rhythm, the virtual course elements take place, such as individual QUEST coaching with external experts and live conversations with DRRS instructors. The second week is dedicated to in-person learning and development of the QUEST, which also means physical engagement in the student’s own study region. Each module with two weeks has one live meeting of about 2h each week, likely Tuesday evening 8-10pm (Zurich time).

The further content is self-paced and by individual arrangements. It partly depends on the participant’s engagement level and QUEST – we account for roughly 2h/day, w/o counting the weekend, for the basic load. The scheduling of this time is up to the participant and their learning group.To find out more please check out our educational program magazine (“Course setup” on page 16).

There will be two types of personal exchange – physical and virtual. With the field trip to the MonViso Institute the entire learning group – including some of the instructors – meets physically. The practice module will be followed by the virtual part in which participants both support each other and get access to live conversations and the mentoring team. In modules 2-6 we meet virtually once a week for about 2 hours with key persons from the field. In addition you will be offered a one-on-one conversation with different, experienced tutors.

As of now, we offer the first CAS Sustainability to Regeneration. It is part of the planned Master (MAS) program, with in total 3 CAS and one MAS module, together leading to the foreseen Master degree. The planned next two CAS will cost the same as this first one. The planned MAS module will cost less, since we don’t go on an extensive field design trip. The entire MAS program, once on offer, will cost in the range of approximately 32’000CHF (changes pending).

We acknowledge the need for financial support for some potential participants, especially from underrepresented and low-income backgrounds. We are working on such options for the future, but for now we cannot offer stipends. A professional degree program aims at professionals who have been working already after their first education, generally a consecutive Master. This professional or also called executive program, with its planned Master in Advanced Studies (MAS), is a tertiary degree and thus an “extra” for those who are at that period in their life.

What we do offer is a personal coaching to identify financing opportunities for highly interested potential CAS participants, for example through smart arguing with their current or future employers.

The MOOC series is ETH’s free offer and brings DRRS education to anyone with internet access, anywhere in the world. This free offer is financially made possible, in the long term, through the professional program.To sum up, for the time being there are no funding options available. However, we do our best to develop such opportunities. Stay up to date by following us also on LinkedIn and/or join the DRRS network. In case something opens up, you will be informed there. 

Our CAS is relevant for a broad range of people and several persons have asked us in the past how they can pinpoint the importance of our program for their work to their employer. If you struggle to develop a clear line of reasoning, don’t hesitate to contact us. Evaluating your specific work situation we will develop a strong use case from which all parties involved benefit.

The program can be joined virtually from anywhere around the world. The teaching sessions will be recorded.Only and important exception is the mandatory 10 days field trip in person to Italy, MonViso Institute, from the 10th to 20th of September 2023.

The program can be joined virtually from anywhere around the world. The teaching sessions will be recorded.Only and important exception is the mandatory 10 days field trip in person to Italy, MonViso Institute, from the 10th to 20th of September 2023.

The field trip, the physical gathering, is a core of the hybrid CAS.The field trip offers unique didactic opportunities that are hardly possible to achieve in virtual settings – the pandemic has impressively reminded us of this:

  • Learning by implementing methods in real life – we don’t learn many things in theory alone, we have to execute them and learn from mistakes/success to be able to implement such methods ourselves.We practice transdisciplinary methods such as serious game, systemic cycles, visual dialogue, Gigamapping, circularity mapping, sketching, view from above, soil regeneration, real-world lab design, etc. during the field trips – in real conditions, meaning the outcomes are emergent, and what we have learned can be directly used in a transformative way.
  • Personal, inner development: Outdoor and experiential education are central components in dealing creatively with complexity. Organic emergence, flow, mindful self-compassion, etc. are learned through experiences with all senses and can then enrich one’s own development.
  • Getting to know each other: In the field trip we get to know each other personally, the group, many instructors – this builds mutual trust and enriches the following virtual learning period to also become more effective.
  • Professional networks form much more personally and deeper through direct contacts, with more opportunities to build trust.

In addition, the field trip also has a kind of vacation character, and we will come back mentally and physically nurtured and recharged. Therefore, the field trip is a central part of the program. Our magazine gives a taste of the learning journey to the Italian Alps. Read more (page 18 et seqq. “The field design trip”).

Your QUEST is guiding you through the study program and will finally lead to your Master’s thesis, once the full MAS program is offered. The first phase of your QUEST evolves during this first CAS, with the program guidance and your own personal development of skills, thinking, and local implementation. Eventually, your QUEST will have evolved to your Master thesis design project, which then will be finalized in the planned Master module.

A first DRRS live info event took place on Wednesday April 19th 8pm (Zurich time) on Zoom. You can view the recording here and find out about the program details.

For organizational related questions around the application process incl. payment, please follow the contact offers as shown on this site.

Also, the DRRS network is immensely helpful, including many alumni from the first two MOOC courses. You can join the network here

In addition, we offer individual consultations on content related issues for people wanting to join the professional program.

We weave bridges and build synergies between people, projects, ecosystems, and economies, between theory and practice – with the common goal to create net-positive impact.