Congresos de la Universitat Politècnica de València, Systems & Design: Beyond Processes and Thinking

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Opportunities and challenges in teaching Systemic Design. The evoluation of the Open Systems master courses at Politecnico di Torino
Silvia Barbero

Última modificación: 17-07-2016


The contamination between design and theory of systems as a field of development of new design processes is nowadays consolidated. However, the issue concerning the methodology to apply in teaching systemic design remains an open question.

The approach adopted in the Master Degree in Systemic Design at Politecnico di Torino is based on the assumption that the teaching method must itself be systemic. Alongside designers, the degree course has involved from the very beginning experts of different disciplines (i.e. chemistry, physics, mechanics, history, economy and management) as teachers, in order to create a multidisciplinary environment for the development of projects. Born as master degree in academic year 2002-03 at Politecnico di Torino (Italy) from the close collaboration with Gunter Pauli, the course has changed name and form but not the content, until it reached the current title (a.y. 2015-16): master degree “Aurelio Peccei” in Systemic Design.

The Open Systems course has enabled students, in previous years, to experiment the design of production processes. This was the case of the systemic project done with NN Europe, a company engaged in manufacturing ball bearings, in which the output management allows a positive economic impact. Over the years the course has shifted its focus from the production process of a product to the wider company context. In 2010, the approach has been applied to the agricultural enterprise Ortofruit: starting from agricultural production, the students have defined the production system and the relationships with the market. Systemic Design, during this course, has experienced the transition from the design of industrial processes that are closely linked to the territory, and then enhance local resources, to the design of the whole territorial system.

The work done by the students of the course in recent years has led to the definition of scenarios about fields usually distant from the traditional design world. For example, the definition of the economic model, the corporate model that is built around relationships on cooperation with different disciplines.

This transition, from the product to the entire territorial system, allows the exploration of new contexts, but it also puts the designer in a complex and challenging position in according with complex theories.


Palabras clave

education, sustainability.

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