Whole Systems: Design in Practice (online)

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Every design begins with a decision. Every decision leads to a change. 

How might we cultivate creative approaches to applying a design lens to our lives? What are the tools, frameworks, practices, and mindsets that can help us shift into a systems design approach? Where does interdependence show up in our life design? What shifts when we understand ourselves through lenses of social ecology, positionality, and relational context? In this course, we will explore these questions as we root into the foundations of systems thinking to investigate the intentional design of our living spaces, communities, and selves. 

Whether you are establishing a personal well-being practice, designing a tiny home, launching a community garden, or in a leadership position in your organization, this course will help you learn how to apply whole systems tools and concepts in a way that feels authentic, creative, and playful.

In our first class, we will explore and create shared meanings of whole systems thinking, social permaculture, and design.  In weeks 2,3, and 4 we will look at how these can be applied through three different lenses: self, space, and social. Instructors will guide learners through facilitated reflection on ways to practice whole systems thinking and design from each lens. We will dig into each one using six key systems thinking concepts: patterns, limits, relationality, leverage points, feedback loops, and stacked functions.

This class meets Wednesday evenings 6:30 PM -8:00 PM EST for 5 sessions, June 2 - June 30.


Land and Community Planning, New Course, Online


All levels


  • Sterling College: 1 Continuing Education Unit ($130 additional)