Social Studio 3 - Systems Design

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSde2SD3148

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon Semester 3 (Monsoon)

Course Coordinator and Team: Divya Chopra, Arvind Lodaya and Suchitra Balasubrahmanyan

Email of course coordinator:,

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Description:

Systems design is the process of understanding how things, regarded as systems, influence one another in a whole. As an approach systems thinking is solving problems, by viewing “problems” as parts of an overall system, rather than reacting to specific part, outcomes or events and potentially contributing to further development of unintended consequences. The approach of systems thinking is fundamentally different from that of traditional form of analysis that focuses on separating the individual pieces of what is being studied. System thinking in contrast focuses on how the thing being studied interacts with the other constituents of the system to produce a particular behaviour- of which it is a part. Systems thinking can used in any area of research and has been applied to the study medical, environmental, political, economic, human resources and educational systems, among many others.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. To build an applied understanding and appreciation of systems thinking and how the same is contrastingly different from the traditional form of analysis and problem solving.
  2. To develop an ability to use systems thinking towards solving problems in a more effective and creative manner.
  3. To learn to use systems thinking in understanding social systems and situations.
  4. To understand various concepts, tools and techniques that may enable the application of systems thinking in different contexts.
  5. To be able to connect the ideas of systems thinking to the rest of the modules/ courses as part of the Social Design programme.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  1. What is a system?
  2. Simple and Complex Systems
  3. Concept of Stability and Leverage
  4. Feedback loops as the essence of systems.
  5. Drawing together the threads and practical application in the form of assignments in a specified location in thecity.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • The final grade would be composed of the following:
  • Class participation and attendance: 10%
  • Opportunity mapping & related process: 20%
  • Project planning & built-up: 20%
  • Ideation & prototyping: 30%
  • Semester-end jury: 20%

Reading List:

  1. The Art of Systems Thinking, Joseph O’ Connor & Ian McDermott.
  2. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization, Peter M. Senge
  3. An Introduction to General Systems Thinking, Gerald M. Weinberg
  4. The Systems View of the World: A Holistic Vision for Our Time, Ervin Laszlo
  5. The Systems Thinking Playbook: Exercises to Stretch and Build Learning and Systems Thinking Capabilities, Linda B. Sweeney, Dennis Meadows
  6. Tracing Connections: Voices of Systems Thinkers, Joy Richmond, Lees Stuntz, Kathy Richmond, Joanne Egner
  7. Systems Thinking: Coping with 21st Century Problems, John Boardman, Brian Sauser