Introducing systems-oriented design for complex societal contexts in design engineering education

Jairo da Costa Junior, Ana Laura Rodrigues dos Santos, Jan Carel Diehl


As our society faces large-scale wicked problems like global warming, resource depletion, poverty and humanitarian emergencies, problem solvers are required to apply new reasoning models more appropriate to deal with these complex societal problems. Dealing with these problems poses unfamiliar challenges in contexts with poor financial and infrastructural resources. Systems Oriented Design (SOD) has been recognized in the literature as a promising approach, capable to support design engineers to deal with these complex societal problems. This paper explores the application of SOD in the development of Product-Service System (PSS) concepts by student teams in a multidisciplinary master course. The course resulted in twelve concepts that were analysed using a case study approach with the support of protocol analysis. The analysis results in a description of advantages, context- and process-related challenges of using SOD. From an education point-of-view, the results demonstrate that even though SOD provides students with a broad knowledge base and skills to deal with problems in complex societal contexts, there is still the need to introduce the appropriate scope and depth in the design engineering curricula, making the transition from traditional product design, a challenging one.

Emneord (Nøkkelord)

Systems Oriented Design, Socio-Technical System, Product-Service System, Complex societal context, Low-income energy market, Humanitarian aid, Sustainability


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.