Systems, Scale and Consequence

3 Credits / 15 Weeks
Course Description
Systems, Scale, and Consequence is a graduate seminar and systems design studio that traces the life of designed products and services through the ecosystems which make them possible, valuable, or meaningful. In this seminar we look at the designed product as a trace of interdependent systems: legal, environmental, social, economic, technical, ethical.
- What is a system and what are some models for understanding systems?
- How do the implications of the scale of objects and services impact design decisions?
- What obligations do designer have to conceive of the systems of designed objects as a design problem?
- How does conceiving the scale consequences of designed products and services change how we design?
- What constraints and limits does working on scale put on the designer?
Course Objectives
Systems, Scale, and Consequence is designed to encourage a team of collaborative, professional designers to conceive, explore, and articulate the scale implications of the work of designed products and services—the limits, possibilities, and opportunities professional designers have which shape the implications of their practice, and the choices they face in the pursuit of their careers.


Class Experience
Through a series of group and personal exercises we will begin by exploring the idea of systems, mapping our own individual systems, then attempt to systematically map the systems of a series of common designed products and/or services. Subsequently we will work to develop a general means for mapping scale systems implications for any designed product or service. In the process we will surface the critical design challenges and practices facing the designer-and explore the future of design as a systems practice. The course will feature guest lecturers and studio visits with practitioners investigating different aspects of the design of systems and ground the conceptual nature of the material in the design and creation of a final project.


Course Deliverables
Students in this course will come away with a set of tools to:
* Understand the role of systems and scale in design process and design outputs
* Understand the potential systemic implications of a given design
* Create fluency and articulateness around systems thinking and the future of design as a systems practice
* A designed product or service that incorporates the idea of scale systems
Related Reading
Thinking in Systems: A Primer, by Donella H. Meadows
I, Pencil, by Leonard E. Read
All Strategy Is Local, by Bruce Greenwald and Judd Kahn, Harvard Business Review
The Congruence Model: A Roadmap for Understanding Organizational Performance, Oliver Wyman Publications
“Why Cities Keep on Growing, Corporations Always Die, and Life Gets Faster”, by Geoffrey B. West
The Systemizing Quotient-Revised Version, developed by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen