RSD8 – Eighth Symposium for Relating Systems Thinking and Design October 17-19, 2019 IIT – Institute of Design Chicago, Illinois, USA – Call for Participation

Call for Participation

RSD8 – Eighth Symposium for Relating Systems Thinking and Design

October 17-19, 2019

IIT – Institute of Design

Chicago, Illinois, USA

SDA Site:


RSD8 Conference website up soon

Systems Change for Governance: Design + Networks + Activation

There is an emerging concern to address the pragmatics of large-scale social system change across all contexts. Organizations can no longer go it alone if they want to achieve scaled and sustainable impact. Building, activating, and amplifying capacity to co-design and co-produce with real stakeholders has always been a challenging commitment. Successful system change models are still emerging across different sectors, and their results are simultaneously challenged by massive global trends. Achieving systems-level transformation requires activating, cultivating and galvanizing networks-technological, infrastructural, and social-that support new collaborative activities, processes, and mindsets.

The role of systemic design in informing equitable and sustainable choices increasingly demands that designers re-orient toward “design and…”. Together, we’ll explore real-world contexts where organizational behavior, entrepreneurship, policymaking, and design are already colliding, as well as new tools and methodologies to evolve our individual and collective points of view about leadership and the transformative practices-and challenges-of large-scale collaboration.

Our thematic questions include the following:

* How can organizations engage and activate networks for reimagining livelihoods and the platforms for supporting them?
* What is the role of leaders-including designers-in designing sustainable solutions that reimagine the interconnectivity of social, technical and ecological infrastructures?
* How can socially-focused entrepreneurs prototype large-scale transformations that weave together new technological developments and more equitable and inclusive solutions?
* Where might we learn from alternative or emerging models of developing and scaling access, inclusion, and equity in large-scale transformation initiatives involving multiple stakeholders?
* What ethical and ecological principles – such as social justice, regenerativity, transparency, and “fit”- should inform how we enable systemic change in action?


The conference theme encompasses many areas of Systemic Design, exploring the opportunities for systems and design thinking in different interdisciplinary and complementary domains. We welcome works addressing this wide theme from different perspectives, fostering special reflections on the relevant topics proposed below.

1. Systemic Design and Organizations, Business Practices, and New Economies
2. Systemic Design and Emerging Technological Infrastructures
3. Systemic Design and Access, Inclusion, and Equity
4. Systemic Design Models and Processes for Sustainment
5. Systemic Design and Governance: Policymaking and Decision Making
6. Open track


Discussion Groups

Participants submit abstracts that will be clustered around thematic areas, and they give brief presentations about their work. These presentations will be followed by loosely structured conversations between 15-20 people led by a facilitator, who afterwards will be responsible for providing a short summary of the discussion and its insights. Both the discussion summary and the submitted abstracts will be published in the conference proceedings.

Activity Groups

Facilitators submit proposals for leading a session that addresses a specific system change challenge for large-scale transformation. Activity groups are knowledge sharing and benchmarking discussions focusing on emerging Systemic Design practices and applications in public, private, and social sectors. Facilitators will be responsible for documenting and summarizing the results of the activity. Accepted activity groups submission and results will be published in the conference proceedings.


Workshops are half/full day sessions that provide an opportunity for participants to engage with the latest tools and methods of systemic design. Facilitators submit proposals for leading hands-on activities sharing their tools, methods, and strategies for large-scale transformation and re-inventing systems of governance. Workshops allow facilitators to test and prototype ideas and co-create new knowledge collaboratively with participants. Workshop proposals should include no fewer than 3 registered facilitators. Proposals should be in the region of but no more than 1000 words and provide an overall description of the theme, details of the proposed activities and format of the session, workshop goals and expected outcomes as well as detailing any technical or space requirements.

Charles Owen Tribute

Charles Owen is a pioneer in connecting design and systems thinking. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Design where he conducted research and taught until 2010 in the Master and PhD Design graduate programs. For participating in this session, participants submit proposals for presenting a review and re-evaluation of Charles Owen’s theories and/or projects through the lenses of contemporary systems theory and challenges. Prof. Owen’s biography, publications, and projects can be found at the Institute of Design website (link: Accepted participants submission will be published in the conference proceedings.


Call for abstracts/proposals for Discussion Groups, Activity Groups, Workshops, and Charles Owen Tribute
“Reinventing Systems of Governance: Design + Networks + Activation” is an interdisciplinary conference aiming to represent the state of the art of systems thinking application in design towards sustainability and stimulate an international debate among academics and professionals on the topic.

We ask everyone who wishes to present their work at RSD8 to submit a long abstract of maximum 1000 words (title, keywords and references excluded). The abstract should be submitted by May 3, 2019 through EasyChair at this link: You should upload the abstract in text form as well as in a PDF file including any images and the conference topics to which your work relates. The abstract submission form will guide you through the process but we recommend you download and read the call for abstracts for more detailed information.

Your abstract will undergo a peer review process by independent referees. We will notify the authors of abstracts selected to be presented at RSD8 within the deadline given on the home page. If you have received an email telling you that your abstract has been selected, you should register for the conference and present your work during the RSD8 symposium (October 17-19, 2019).

After the conference, you will be asked to prepare a working paper that will be included in the RSD8 proceedings: you may consider the feedback gathered during your presentation discussion. All the working papers will be included in the official RSD8 proceedings, published in Open Access by Systemic Design Association. Then, authors desiring to fully develop a research article from the paper will be given the opportunity to submit them for peer-reviewed publication in leading design/scientific journals.

Key Dates

03 May 2019 – Deadline for abstract submission

31 May 2019 – Announcement of abstract decisions

17-19 October 2019 – RSD8 Symposium at IIT-Institute of Design, Chicago


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