MOOC ETH : Designing Resilient
Regenerative Systems 

ETH Massive Open Online Course Series in Designing Resilient Regenerative Systems

A MOOC series about creating positive impact in complex systems as part of learning communities

This innovative Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) hybridizes sustainability science, systemic design and transformative action. It provides you with worldviews, tools, illustrations and transformative networks to build your capacities and engage in systemic innovation of complex systems.
The increasingly fast-changing world requires as well skillsets of relational holism and creative weaving of effective solutions in cooperation. Such solutions need to strengthen regional bio-economies and local communities, while increasing cooperation on a sub-national scale, across national boundaries, still making us less dependent on global supply chains.

MOOC#1 : From Sustainability to Regeneration
MOOC#2 : Beyond Systems Thinking
MOOC#3 : Systemic Design
MOOC#4 : Real-world Transformative Design Praxis

Duration: 4 x 3 months recommended (faster possible in self-paced mode)
Format: virtual (edX) + DRRS network
Language: English
Program fee: Free / edX certificate 50 euros

About the MOOC series

This 4 Module MOOC series is about creating positive impact in complex systems in times of nested crises. It is about navigating complexity and uncertainty with new tools and practices, such as “organic emergence.” Complex systems are inherently dynamic and unpredictable: their properties are emergent. An organic way to engage with emergence is to trust in having the right tools and techniques to adaptively cope with sudden surprises or challenges, and to reveal hidden opportunities.

The four consecutive MOOCs aim to address these urgent and complex challenges. Participants are invited on a learning journey that includes emphasis on new holistic worldviews, concepts like regeneration and resilience, befriending complexity and uncertainty, methods and hybrid practices of science and design, connecting more with our inner self, and becoming bio-regional weavers within communities of transformational learning and praxis.

MOOC#1 Title:
Worldviews – from Sustainability to Regeneration

Status: 2nd iteration open (self-paced)
Format: virtual (edX) + DRRS network
Language: English
Program fee: Free / edX certificate 50 euros

In this first MOOC you are introduced to current globally relevant nested crises, and how local action relates to such. You become conscious about the existence and dominance of current and alternative worldviews. You learn the roots of sustainability and pathways to regeneration. You acquire tools to reframe complexity and befriend uncertainty, while studying different ways of knowing and reasoning, from science to warm data. You learn to reconnect with nature and to design as nature. You gain new awareness through practices of physical and mental activation via self-compassion techniques and flow experiences in nature.

1.0 Welcome and introduction
1.1 Global crisis with local solutions
1.2 From sustainability to regeneration
1.3 Reframing complexity
1.4 Different ways of knowing and reasoning
1.5 Design as nature
1.6 Mind and movement

MOOC#2 Title:
Beyond Systems Thinking

Status: 1st iteration closed (teacher-paced ); 2nd iteration re-opened in February 2024 (self-paced)
Format: virtual (edX) + DRRS network
Language: English
Program fee: Free / edX certificate 50 euros

we develop a critical understanding of what systems thinking entails and how it can become a helpful habit. We learn about living systems concepts of evolutionary biology, and how we as humans are entangled as part of living systems. The view from above contains techniques to deal with complexity, to zoom out of a system to zoom in on what matters most. We learn the basics of social network analysis and how to measure and interpret structures in networks, such as for resilience. We acquire an applicable toolset i.e. on the transformative potential of outer and inner resilience, which leads over to an extended look into circularity, from a circular economy to five types of circular flows. Finally, we learn about systemic innovation, how to nudge complex systems to transform, and with what tools this may be possible.

2.0 Welcome and introduction
2.1 (Critical) Systems Thinking
2.2 Living Systems
2.3 (Social) Networks
2.4 Resilience
2.5 Circularity
2.6 Systemic Innovation 2.7 Synthesis

MOOC#3 Title:
Systemic Design

Status: 1st iteration opens in September-October 2024 (self-paced)
Format: virtual (edX) + DRRS network
Language: English
Program fee: Free / edX certificate 50 euros

In this third MOOC you learn the latest on the hybrid field of methods and practices in systemic design. You explore how designers work, across disciplines, from design thinking to research by design. Cross-scale design is a newly developed tool to help guiding transformative designerly work across scales of governance, which helps anyone to find their entry points to systems change. Systems-oriented design is a specific practice of visual dialogue with Gigamapping, part of a messy rich design space, leading to narrating synthesis maps. These are one way to get into transdisciplinary dialogue, and you will learn others. Finally, you learn about real-world laboratories and their transformative capacities.

3.0 Welcome and introduction
3.1 Origins and advances in Systemic Design
3.2 Scientific methods
3.3 Designerly methods
3.4 Cross-scale design
3.5 Embodied and transformative practices
3.6 The art of navigating through systemic design 3.7 Living Systems Labs and other real-world labs

MOOC#4 Title:
Real-World Transformative Design Praxis

Status: 1st iteration end of 2024/begin of 2025 (self-paced)
Format: virtual (edX) + DRRS network
Language: English
Program fee: Free / edX certificate 50 euros

This fourth MOOC takes you to illustrative real-world laboratories and living systems labs, across types, geographies, climates, cultures, and scale. The MonViso Institute in the Italian Piedmont is a mountain campus lab with holistic approaches to sustainability transitions and regenerative design across scales, from buildings to bio-regions. The Spanish Island of Mallorca provides fascinating insights into a maritime, mediterranean bio-regional context. Hemsedal Norway opens up a Nordic climate and culture. Finally, Tiny Labs are “anyone, anywhere, anytime” low-threshold integrative types of real-world experimentations you will learn about. You’ll finish this MOOC and the entire series with your own bio-regional transformative design praxis project.

4.0 Welcome and introduction
4.1 RWL: The MonViso Institute, Ostana, Italy
4.2 RWL: Mallorca, Spain
4.3 RWL: Hemsedal, Norway
4.4 RWL: Tiny Labs
4.5 Transformative Design Project

“We need to fundamentally redesign our societies, our economies, our lifestyles, our human-nature relation.”

A new cohort of “weavers”

A new learning community you will be part of – Designing Resilient Regenerative Systems (DRRS) – a virtual place to co-create the Now and the Next, to deep dive into themes that a MOOC may trigger, to engage and create further learning opportunities.
Check out DRRS network.

Time to invest will be about a minimum of 3-5 hours per week, with each MOOC taking between six and eleven weeks of time, including brake weeks.

You will learn are systemic design and systems-oriented design, social network analysis, resilience assessment, life cycle and footprint analysis, circularity mapping, visual dialogue, cross-scale design, “view from above” perspectives, biomimicry, transdisciplinary research, real-world elaboration, and more.

with this MOOC series: deep philosophical discourse, insights into the latest state of science on sustainability and resilience, designerly practice, hybrid methods, concrete design principles, real-world illustrations, and a motivating community. 

with diverse experts in their field – sustainability scientists, systemic designers, consultants, local and European politicians, book authors, builders, mountain guides, self-compassion trainers, and together co-create and connect communities of practice for learning and engagement opportunities

will take you to Hemsedal Norway, Annecy France, Ostana Italy, and Mallorca Spain – from material supply chains, to products, buildings, communities and their services, to landscapes, bio-regions, and transnational cooperation. This offers a comparative understanding of communities and regions undergoing sustainability transitions across different contexts, cultures, climates and geographies. 

are designed to combine time and place independent virtual learning through pre-recorded conversations and presentations, both accessible as movies and audio files, readings, and practical engagement outside in nature. Virtual content is meant to stimulate physical and social interaction in the bio-region where the participant lives. Systemic Cycles takes the participant on a conscious exploration of place and regional supply chain actors on their bicycle, to playfully learn systemic design methods, to weave together local and regional networks and to explore the inner self through physical activity. An accompanying visual mapping process called Gigamapping acts as a designerly way to co-create your own learning journey and connect across the MOOC series to your final transformative design project. Your personal QUEST guides you through your learning journey. Weekly live tutorials in an online forum offer opportunities to discuss and brainstorm with teachers. 

Diverse 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.

PhD. Professor in Sustainability Science. Founded “Systemic Design Labs” at ETH Zürich. Prof. for systemic design at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO), Norway. Director of the MonViso Institute real-world lab, Italy.

PhD. Bio-regional weaver. Consultant & educator. Author of “Designing Regenerative Cultures“. Trained biologist and holistic scientist with a PhD in Natural Design.

Designer and systems-oriented architect. Justyna lectures at the French National School of Industrial Design – Ensci les Ateliers and at Royal College of Art in London. Founder of TinyLabs.

  • We are grateful for friends and colleagues who as well teach in these MOOCs:
  • Fritjof Capra, PhD, Center for Ecoliteracy, Berkeley CA
  • Jeremy Lent, Author, Liology Institute, CA
  • Prof. Adrienne Grêt-Regamey, PhD, ETH Zurich
  • Philippe Vandenbroeck, ShiftN, International Futures Forum
  • Benjamin Marias, AIR coop, Vice-mayor of Annecy, France
  • Prof. Guillaume Habert, PhD, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Detlef Günther, PhD, Vice-president, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Ulrik Brandes, PhD, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Michael Stauffacher, PhD, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Catherine de Wolf, PhD, ETH Zurich
  • Nicolas Salliou, PhD, ETH Zurich
  • Eric L. Berlow, PhD, Vibrant Data Labs, Berkeley CA
  • Andrés Edwards, Author of “Renewal”, EduTracks
  • Mirjam Luthe, Mindful Self Compassion, MonViso Institute
  • Haley Fitzpatrick, PhD student AHO, MonViso Institute
  • Prof. Andrea Bocco, PhD, Politecnico Torino, IT
  • Prof. Silvia Barbero, PhD, Politecnico Torino, IT
  • Prof. Birger Sevaldson, PhD, AHO Oslo, NO
  • Prof. Ingrid Halland, PhD, AHO Oslo, NO
  • Philipp Schneider, PhD, Hydrogeology, CH
  • Martin Schütz, ETHZ & ZHdK, Zurich, CH
  • Romano Wyss, PhD, EPFL Lausanne, CH
  • Werner Schönthaler, Hemp360, IT
  • 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
  • and some more…
  • Special thanks for helping to develop and curate this MOOC series:
  • Sonja Fischer, ETH Zurich (from 10/2022 on)
  • Tiphaine Mühlethaler, ETH Zurich (2020-2022)
  • Video production and editing team:
  • Tristan Copley Smith, England
  • Elia Lombardo, Italy
  • Martin Hauge, Norway
  • ETHZ multimedia studio, Zurich
  • AHO multimedia studio, Oslo
  • Frédérique Gélinas, Italy/Canada

This MOOC series is about creating positive impact in complex systems. It is about navigating complexity and uncertainty with new tools and practices, such as “organic emergence:” Complex systems are inherently dynamic and unpredictable: their properties are emergent. An organic way to engage with emergence is to trust in having the right tools and techniques to adaptively cope with sudden surprises or challenges, and to reveal hidden opportunities.

It is about dancing with systems, about befriending uncertainty, and about finding community to co-learn and become joint weavers in weaving new connections, new cooperations, new circularities, new bio-regional economies.

One objective of these MOOCs is to familiarize different disciplines with each other by language, value and impact – in order to cooperatively co-create systemic innovation to wicked problems. It can complement academic training from non-design disciplines to expand on creatively dealing with complexity, and use this based on worldview values and directions. It can also expand the training of design field students by gaining knowledge on systems thinking, conscious worldviews, scientific reasoning, and other methods.

These all are skills and cultures of and from the emerging field of systemic design.

READ MORE about Systemic Design

Really, for anyone who is curious and open to do the best we can to cope with crises, to navigate complexity, to co-create more livable futures. If you are a student or a practitioner, if you learned science, engineering, design, architecture, 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. Are you ready to take full responsibility for your own creative agency in how we co-create a regenerative future?

Join us!

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.