Systemic Change

Systemic Change uses Design and Technology to study socio-technical systems at the level of a community, by designing technology-enabled interventions addressing societal challenges and analysing their effect on the eco-system.

The cluster Systemic Change investigates technological interventions in the context of contemporary societal challenges. In cross-disciplinary teams of specialists and stakeholders, we envision and create socio-technical systems operating in near real-life ecosystems and study their effects in the short and long term. In the socio-technological systems, we utilize emerging technologies such as ICT, Big Data, AI, sensors and actuators. We use the aesthetics of interaction of the users with the socio-technical systems to evoke change and we underpin the desired change by applying ethical frameworks and theories from social sciences and humanities. Using a research through design approach, we develop methods, tools, platforms and field labs that support the co-creation and analysis processes. These can subsequently be repurposed by the cross-disciplinary stakeholders in their own practice.

We design, describe and analyse systems that typically intervene on the scale of medium-sized groups (commonly between 50 and 5000 people) with a given social relation, such as neighbourhoods, social groups, clubs, patient groups, etc. We closely cooperate with members of these groups, other multi-helix stakeholders that have an interest in the intervention, and specialists from other fields.

We analyse quantitative and qualitative data directly obtained in Experiential Design Landscapes (EDLs) or other field labs via direct sensing and monitoring, complemented with empirical field research such as ethnography and contextual interviews. We search for patterns that can explain and monitor key aspects for systemic change, which are translated into experiential probes and systems to influence values and behaviour at a community level. The resulting knowledge includes, on the one hand, theories, frameworks, models and exemplars explaining and guiding systemic change and, on the other, methodologies, tools, field labs and co-creation spaces to explore and investigate systemic change.

In order to create impact, we currently limit ourselves to three contexts: Vitality, the Health Continuum and Social Resilience. These contexts are strongly related to internationally targeted societal challenges with funding opportunities such as Horizon 2020 and the Dutch National Research Agendas. For these three contexts we already have a number of field labs in place, such as Genneper Parken, ENSAFE Community Lab and Studio for Connected Society. Future additional application areas and field labs are currently being considered (e.g. 21st century education). In addition we have built strong regional and national networks with social groups, stakeholders, institutes and specialists, including Máxima Medical Centre, Fontys University of applies sciences, Philips Design, Province Noord-Brabant and Utrecht University.