Courses and programs
Learning competence goals and teaching methods
Holistic teaching and learning activities
The Systemic Design Lab (SDL) initiative builds on established teaching in science, engineering, planning and design while introducing systemic design thinking and doing in innovative formats based on experiential didactics and outdoor creativity. A main aim is to develop and employ a set of hybrid tools for dealing with complex systems, for designing resilient regenerative systems, across disciplines.
We use bio-inspired design or design-as-nature principles, fabrication and prototyping with regenerative materials, urban and landscape test planning, and systems- or supply chain mapping of product/process/services to spur creativity, holistic thinking and critical reflection, visual dialogue and facilitation within a sustainability context. Students learn to inhabit the “view from above” – zooming out of the direct problem focus to see the underlaying structure and identify leverage hubs with systemic impact – and zooming in again with the needed focus on details that matter most.
Students acquire skills to apply scientific methods, such as life cycle analysis, supply chain mapping, resilience assessment, and circularity planning, to both quantify and minimize the undesirable negative environmental footprint while increasing the regenerative, net-positive contribution of their design solutions.
Students learn about designerly ways of reasoning, research by design, design thinking, visual dialogue, iteration, and different design disciplines. Part of this is a culture to research solutions of interventions with a conscious focus on the designer as an intervener, about being steered by interest, prototyping despite of lack of data.
Fabrication and material science are taught by actually designing and prototyping while engaging in transdisciplinary partnerships for societal impact and real-world experience. Students gain a whole-systems understanding of the relation between products, processes, services, economies, land use and lifestyles to up- and downstream flows of matter, energy and people mobility, within a spatial framing, designerly interventions, and a continuous zoom in zoom out practice.
Courses offered by Systemic Design Labs
As a fluid, dynamic and in-between-disciplines floating set of combined research and teaching activities, SDL has been prototyping and offering various courses with different foci and partners. Many of the below listed courses were financed by ETH Innovedum. We continuously develop new formats and experiment with didactics in a flexible setting across disciplines.
Our second Designing Resilient Regenerative Systems MOOC entitled “Beyond Systems Thinking” starts 14th of November on EdX. In this MOOC we develop a critical understanding of what systems thinking entails and how it can become a helpful habit. The view from above contains techniques to deal with complexity, to zoom out of a system for…
The new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) series entitled “Designing Resilient Regenerative Systems” is featuring a new virtual-real didactic concept, where local physical social outdoor action is stimulated and incubated by virtual means. Starting in spring 2022 on EdX.
A cycling journey towards resilient regenerative futures: Systemic Cycles (SC) was protoyped by Martin Schütz and Tobias Luthe of ETH Zurich in 2021, hosted by MonViso Institute, IT. SC currently is both further conceptualized as a Swiss-based research project, and as part of this research practically developed in different bio-regional contexts. cycle-explore-connect-map-weave-transfer-enjoy Systemic Cycles is…
This is a course series using regenerative building materials for designing and building circular products, and testing these products in practice. What: Various ETHZ graduate and undergraduate courses by Systemic Design Labs with a focus on circular design of useful products with regenerative materials. When: 2016-2019. Instructors: Tobias Luthe, Martin Schütz, Thomas Lumpe, and others…
How to revive mountain livelihoods, focusing on local identity, resilient landscapes and a regenerative economy? What: ETHZ Master course by Systemic Design Labs. When: spring term 2019. Instructors: Tobias Luthe, Justyna Swat, Haley Fitzpatrick, Anna Rodewald Design challenge The specific design challenge is to identify and layout a holistic, partly quantified and visualized systems strategy…
An experiential educational co-creation hybridizing science, design, social outdoor joy, and local people action. What: ETH-EPFL PhD Summer School When: June 2021. Instructors: Tobias Luthe (ETH), Romano Wyss (EPFL), PhD students of ETH and EPFL as organizers; many further professors, policy makers, practitioners Organized by ETH Zurich, EPFL Lausanne, MonViso Institute. Partnering with The Oslo School…