The increase in complex problems necessitates a shift away from the exclusively reductionist approach that predominates our worldview. In design, this realisation has led to the rise of systemic design, a relatively new field that bridges design practices and systems thinking. In this new approach, designers collaborate with stakeholders in a complex problem space to cultivate a deeper systemic understanding and create a more holistic solution network using system dynamics.

This masterclass will teach you the basics of systemic design with a focus on how to make its mindset and practice applicable as a professional. A set of tools will be discussed and experimented with in a real life case. We will make space to discuss your experiences with complexity as a professional, and how to improve your approach in the future, learning from each other. As participants, you will stand at the basis of an emerging systemic design community in Belgium.

Is this masterclass for you?

This masterclass is developed for anyone who wants to improve their analysing and design skills and learn how to use systemic design in order to make meaningful and impactful change in the world around them. If you encounter problems where no amount of research and understanding seems enough to grasp them, or problems where every solutions seems to make new problems arise, this masterclass might be something for you. You do not need any prior knowledge of systems thinking to attend this course. Knowledge of design is an advantage, but this course is not exclusively developed for design professionals.

Learning outcomes

By attending this masterclass, you will:

  • understand what kind of cases can merit from a systemic design approach
  • understand the underlying rationale of a systemic design approach
  • earn which first steps you can take to analyse a complex problem
  • discover a set of tools to design in complexity and work towards a network of solutions
  • discuss how to make this applicable in the context of your work environment

Teaching staff

This masterclass is taught by the Antwerp Systemic Design Lab:

  • Alexis Jacoby is professor strategic design at the department of product development, University of Antwerp. His research focuses on innovation methodology for strategic and complex problems. He teaches courses in design methodology, systemic design and futures thinking.
  • Kristel Van Ael is one of the managing partners at design agency Namahn with her main focus geared towards strategic and systemic design and knowledge development. She is the lead author of the systemic design toolkit (www.systemicdesigntoolkit.org) and co-author of the Design Journeys through Complex Systems.
  • Maud Gruyters is a design researcher and PhD candidate at the Systemic Design Lab of the University of Antwerp. Her research focuses on the way design can drive social impact and social innovation in addressing complex societal issues. Her work applies a systemic perspective exploring continuous monitoring of implementation throughout the design process.
  • Esther Noeth is a transition design researcher and PhD candidate at the University of Antwerp. As part of her doctoral research, she has built experience in organizing and facilitating workshops, both at her case-company and at various academic conferences.
  • Stine Moons is a systemic design and transition design researcher, doing her PhD at the University of Antwerp. She has workshop experience in design education and as a facilitator in various systemic design projects.

Practical information and fee

The course is open for 12 to 20 participants. 

The participation fee is 1.250,- euro (excl. VAT) for the two day course. The fee covers the course, lunch and coffee, tea for the two days, and a copy of the book 'Design Journey through complex systems'.
Social reductions are possible for non-profit organizations. Please contact us.
Subscription will be considered final once the participation fee is paid.

The course takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday, 11th and 12th of June 2024, from 9AM to 5PM, at the new campus of the department of Product Development, University of Antwerp.
The campus is accessible via Paardenmarkt 94 or het Kouwenstraatje. There is no free parking space available in the neigbourhood. The nearest parking spaces are parking St.-Jacob (Sint-Jacobsmarkt - 7 min. walk), parking Antwerp Shopping Opera-MYPARK (Molenbergstraat 9 - 7 min. walk) en Q-Park (Godefriduskaai - 8 min. walk). Cycling or public transportation is recommended, with the central station a 15-minute walk away

The sessions will be held in English, but the teaching staff is proficient in Dutch as well when additional clarifications are required.