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Go with the Flow

Type of project
01.10.2020 -> 30.09.2024

About the project

My PhD positions Systems Orientated Design (SOD), collaborative governance and Foresight as framing thematics of an anticipatory systems approach to my research focus area. My study is situated in a South African context and I am investigating how an anticipatory systems approach to design research might lead to shaping better and more sustainable futures of local actors in the Stellenbosch river catchment area.

Key Aims and Questions:
The Western Cape province recently experienced “Day Zero” – a campaign promoting water stewardship in the face of a recent drought in the region. Rivers are a reflection of the communities they flow through and the rivers in the Stellenbosch river catchment area was highly contaminated with dangerous toxins during the drought (2017-2018). Stellenbosch is the main wine exporter region of South Africa and the current state of the rivers pose a threat for the socio-economic climate of the region. Historically, rivers were used to oppress, marginalize and separate communities during apartheid and this socio-political context brings forward critical discourse on ownership, responsibility, response-ability and ethics towards climate responses. The aim is to partner with Co-Go, a local NGO that strives towards collaborative governance in the Stellenbosch region, to determine critical systems design approaches that deals with the socio-political, – ethical and – environmental discourse of the region and promote water stewardship. The driving question: How can an anticipatory SOD approach promote sustainable water stewardship in the Stellenbosch community?

Analytical Framework:
Systems-Oriented Design

Key Concepts:
Modal Narratives, Futurescaping, Collaborative Governance, Anticipation

Research Methods:
Operative mapping, giga-mapping, Walking interviews / participatory drawings, Community-based co-creation, comparative case-studies

Design Techniques and Tools:
critical systems thinking, visualizing complexity, climate-responsive design, trans-disciplinary collaboration

Participants, Networks and Audiences (in progress):
Co-Go, Stellenbosch University, Distell, Spier, WWF, UNESCO, Cape Wetlands Forum, Grindod, Local government: water and sanitation, Stellenbosch Municipality.

Mediation and Communication:

Research Outcomes:
Compilation of works PhD Thesis; open-access design tools for research-community partnerships

Prof. Andrew Morrison
Assoc. Prof. Tobias Luthe