26th April – Graphic Design and Systems Thinking

Today, we spent the afternoon lesson looking into the idea of graphic design and system thinking. This was in order to aid us in our design volunteers report that we have been asked to write. During this lesson I took note on what was being said and these notes alongside any video that was shown can be found below:

A definition of system thinking that I found during the lesson:

Definition – Systems thinking: ‘is an approach to problem-solving that views ‘problems’ as part of a wider, dynamic system. It is the process of understanding how things influence one another as part of a whole. Systems thinking involves much more than a reaction to present outcomes or events. It demands a deeper understanding of the linkages, relationships, interactions, and behaviours among the elements that characterise the entire system.’

When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe, JOHN MUIR, 1911

  • Consequences – Can’t make a design without breaking something else
  • Not the process it the messages
  • Case Study – How whales change the climate -> release nutrient that are uncommon in the planet -> More whales = more fish -> More whales more plankton = more carbon in the atmosphere
  • One human action (killing the whales) resulted in further issues that could only be solved with the thing that they were getting rid of. Set of a change of events! -> can makes link to this to design
  • A lack of water, means that nature alongside human are suffering (seen through element such as the man drinking the water and the lack of plants/healthy ground in the some of the images).
  • The planet that we live on and disasters we contribute too as designers and as humans
  • Because of our greed, other suffer
  • Political systems impact on natural systems
  • Wilful ignorance
Confusing words: Draught and Drought
  • Paper – Stock and flow -> products being made or harvested and moving out of the production system into ‘use’. Growth and Values -> things that you can make profit from.
  • Packaging -> Perfume – way they sell it is by making expensive packaging, put the price up. Can not be recycled.
  • Shock advertising – dont think about the effect they have, showing bad issues in order to make a profit
  • Designing Backwards – how can we avoid landfill. Can it go back into production!?

Overall, I understand the importance of system thinking and it relation to graphic design. It was really eye opening to how the little thing that we do has a chain effect that can really effect others and the planet that we live on, including elements such as the use of paper and the use of the internet which take electricity. It is not something that I can honestly say I look too much into or consider enough as I go about my day and I will try to be a bit more conscious of this from now on. I understand the relevance to the report that we will be writing for design volunteers and will be considering the importance of it within this project.


FutureLearn. 2021. System thinking: an introduction. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/info/courses/understanding-systems-thinking-in-healthcare/0/steps/76301#:~:text=Systems%20thinking%20is%20an%20approach,as%20part%20of%20a%20whole.. [Accessed 26 April 2021].

YouTube. 2021. How Whales Change Climate – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M18HxXve3CM. [Accessed 26 April 2021].

WordPress.com. 2021. Confusing words: Draught and Drought. [ONLINE] Available at: https://birdgei.com/2011/09/12/draught-vs-drought/. [Accessed 28 April 2021].

YouTube. 2021. How Wolves Change Rivers – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q. [Accessed 28 April 2021].

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