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

Jairo da Costa Junior, Ana Rodrigues Santos, Jan-Carel Diehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

46 Downloads (Pure)


Faced with large-scale wicked problems that include global warming, resource depletion, poverty and humanitarian emergencies, society needs new and more appropriate reasoning models. In particular, these problems pose unfamiliar challenges in contexts with poor financial and infrastructural resources. Systems-oriented design (SOD) is widely recognised as one promising approach that can support design engineers in addressing 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 resulting twelve concepts were analysed using a case study approach and protocol analysis, describing the advantages and context- and process-related challenges of using SOD. From an educational perspective, the results demonstrate that while SOD provides students with a broad knowledge base and skills for addressing problems in complex societal contexts, there remains a need to introduce appropriate scope and depth to the design engineering curricula, making the transition from traditional product design a challenging one.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • systems-oriented design
  • socio-technical system
  • product-service system
  • complex societal context
  • low-income energy market
  • humanitarian aid
  • sustainability

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Introducing systems-oriented design for complex societal contexts in design engineering education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this